By Matthew Wheeler T'16
Sneakers everywhere, I remember thinking, when I walked into Converse Headquarters last winter to interview for a summer internship position. The sneakers, rock-and-roll music, and street art throughout the office were a jarring departure from the more traditional, corporate environment I worked in prior to Tuck. Immediately, I started to feel a sense of excitement and energy; Converse’s core values of creativity and individuality were personified in this space.
Before coming to Tuck, I worked as a strategy consultant, where I particularly liked grappling with issues surrounding customer experience. For my summer internship I knew I wanted three key things: to work at a company obsessed with customer experience, to put the general management perspectives I learned in my first year at Tuck to use in an interdisciplinary role, and to work with people who would challenge me and give me an opportunity to grow. My summer with Converse, as an intern in the Strategic Planning group, satisfied all three of these desires beyond expectations.
Over the course of my summer, I worked on three primary projects; each provided me with different opportunities and learnings.
My first project was to help senior leaders develop and create a set of materials which chronicled Converse’s past performance and explicated growth paths and expectations for the future. What were the key areas for growth? How were we positioned? How would we communicate this? This work had me interacting with c-level executives and decision makers across Converse within my first week at the firm. Not only was this a rewarding task, but it provided me with great foundation, overview, and relationships to begin my summer.
The next project was to think about Converse’s commercial strategy and better understand channel dynamics across products and geographies. This work allowed me to interact with front-line general managers in regions and categories. Exposure to these different colleagues enriched my experience and perspective. Throughout this project I became better able to see through the lens of strategy activation; good ideas are only as valuable as your ability to share them and build support for execution.
My last project during the summer involved kicking-off a new study, evaluating potential new product offerings Converse could bring to market in the near-, medium-, and long-term. This project exposed me to more the creative and artistic side of the business. Collaborating with product designers and engineers really made the material come to life in a new way. The ability to think through the whole lifecycle of new product development: from concept, to design, to business plan, to timeline, to execution was exciting to be a part of.
Throughout my ten weeks at Converse, I had many rewarding personal and professional experiences. The people I was able to work with every day were uniformly talented, passionate, and helpful. Working with two Tuck alums (T’05 & T’11) was particularly exciting. I was grateful to be in a company that allowed me to take risks, explore, and put to work the concepts I learned during my first year at Tuck.
I left the summer with a greater appreciation for the significant impact internal strategy teams can have, a perspective into the life of a general manager, a range of experiences that I can draw on in the future, a host of new friends … and far too many pairs of new sneakers.
Matt Wheeler is a second-year student at Tuck. Prior to Tuck, he was a consultant at L.E.K Consulting. He has a degree in economics from Boston College.
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