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Francesca Pietrantonio (IMC18)

Strategy Associate at Prophet
Francesca Pietrantonio

As a strategy associate at brand strategy and growth consultancy firm Prophet, Francesca Pietrantonio (WCAS17, IMC18) says “the combination of art and science is at the heart of what I do.” She uses the art and science skills she learned in the Integrated Marketing Communications master’s program to solve clients’ business problems by making recommendations that are grounded in a mix of customer research, industry knowledge and intuition. Pietrantonio worked at Prophet during Medill IMC’s Immersion Quarter, and was offered a job there after graduation.

Tell us about your career path.

I have always had a love and interest for people, which led me to major in cognitive science and psychology when I was an undergraduate student at Northwestern. I wanted a career that allowed me to leverage what I was learning in a more tangible--versus a theoretical--fashion, so I also decided to pursue the IMC Undergraduate Certificate.

Delving into business, and more specifically marketing, allowed me to explore what I was interested in a very real-world way. I pursued the IMC master’s program and bolster my education and experience in this field. In the IMC program, I learned a lot about the various disciplines within marketing and communications and developed the skills it requires to be successful in today's dynamic and fast-changing business and marketing world. I also discovered that I was passionate about brand strategy and continually learning new things. I sought out strategy roles in advertising or branding agencies, and secured a role as a strategy associate at Prophet, a brand strategy and growth consultancy firm.

What are your main responsibilities?

At a high level, my role as an associate is to research our client's business and the market landscape and develop presentations for internal discussions and client meetings. Most projects have a research component in which we conduct qualitative or quantitative research, so it's also typical for associates to develop discussion guides, or surveys, and interpret the insights from this work. I also bring a point of view or hypotheses to the table to contribute to the team's thinking and aid in problem-solving.

How did the Medill IMC program prepare you for your job?

IMC taught me to think from a variety of different perspectives, such as consumer insights, media and business strategy, to name a few, which I think are critical in approaching a particular problem. The courses I took in brand strategy were most impactful in preparing me for my job. Those classes allowed me to develop and hone my critical thinking and problem-solving skills through case studies. Understanding that there is not always a perfect answer, but you must blend the information you have with your own perspective and intuition to make a decision that you think is best. Additionally, the program gave me the opportunity to practice effective storytelling, giving presentations, and working in teams, which are all critical in helping me succeed at my job.

Tell us about your Immersion Quarter.

I did my immersion quarter with Prophet. It was a great chance for me to apply my learnings from IMC in terms of bringing a perspective to a particular problem or discussion, interpreting insights from brand equity research, collaborating with my team, and presenting to my team and the client. I really enjoyed my experiences and thought Prophet was a great fit for me in terms of the work they do and also the people and company culture. I was thrilled to have received a full-time offer after Immersion Quarter and it was a no-brainer for me to accept.

What is a class or experience that sticks out in your mind and why?

I really value many of the classes I took at IMC, but I'd have to say that my favorite was Jonathan Copulsky's Customer Value Innovation class. The course's focus on business model and product innovation and how both are deeply tied to brand was fascinating to me. I also really enjoyed how we used case studies of very interesting problems and successes from companies such as Salesforce, Chobani and Google to apply our learnings and push our critical thinking skills.

What advice would you give to someone considering Medill IMC?

The IMC program is a fantastic time for exploration and self-discovery. I found my experiences incredibly valuable in helping me discover what within marketing and communications I was really passionate about. Whether you're new or already experienced in the field, the program gives you a chance to expand your knowledge across a variety of areas from data analytics, to content marketing and communications, to brand strategy and media. In my view, having a comprehensive understanding of the field and how all the disciplines work together for a business is very valuable for a marketer in today's world. Furthermore, through speaking with my professors and the opportunities offered by career services, I learned what type of role or company was the right fit for me.