Sep 21, 2016

Working for a Nonprofit, with an MBA Lens

By Marshall Wallach T’17

When I first engaged with CEO Doug Price about a brand strategy internship at Rocky Mountain Public Broadcasting Service (RMPBN), I was a bit taken aback at how perfect the opportunity was on multiple fronts. In the planning stages of a $30 million capital campaign, station leadership had decided it was time to refresh their brand, a process which would include a logo redesign and revisiting the “language” through which they communicated their value to stakeholders. Given my interest in both brand strategy/management, previous experience as an advancement professional, and my desire to work at a Colorado-based non-profit in the long run, it was the perfect gig. As “icing on the cake,” the Center for Business & Society agreed to support me with a generous TuckGIVES grant to pursue the opportunity.         

It has been a privilege to watch such an exciting chapter unfold for a reputable Colorado brand. I am also proud to have played integral roles in various facets of the project over the past nine weeks. Beginning with the process of hiring an award-winning, Denver-based creative agency and more recently, working with RMPBN’s CMO to design a brand rollout schedule, the experience has been a great lesson in project management and long-term strategic thinking.

With an organization-wide rebrand also comes the opportunity to revisit departmental roles, responsibilities, and strategies. One of my favorite parts of the summer has been the opportunity to help lead RMPBN’s marketing team through the process of creating strategic imperatives for the new fiscal year. In the early stages of the process, I worked with our marketing manager to design and facilitate group exercises that would ultimately yield key insights for this work. After three weeks of group work and framework development with station leadership, I presented five proposed FY17 strategic imperatives to the team. We quickly adopted the charter, which the department will use to guide its final-stage strategic planning after I depart next week.

Truth be told – I had not expected to be back in the non-profit sector so soon (I’ve spent nearly my entire professional career to date in the space!). The experience has been quite familiar in many ways, but brand new in others. Having been able to tackle familiar challenges through a newly acquired MBA “lens” is perhaps what I’m most grateful for.

Many thanks to Tuck GIVES, my classmates, family, RMPBN, and the Center for Business, Government, & Society for making this experience possible!