Real Humans of Procter & Gamble: Steve Van Vechten, Cornell Johnson MBA ‘20, Senior Brand Manager, Bounty
The quicker, picker upper — finish that slogan! If you said “Bounty,” you’d be correct. Bounty is an American brand of paper towel that is manufactured by Procter & Gamble. First introduced in 1965, it has become one of the most popular paper towel brands known for its absorbency and strength, not to mention its many famous slogans, commercials and campaigns. P&G is known for pioneering brand management and cultivating great business leaders — but what is their secret? Steve Van Vechten, Cornell Johnson MBA ‘20, wanted to find out. After an energizing summer internship at P&G, Steve transitioned into a Senior Brand Manager of Bounty Paper Towels and he gets an insider-perspective of the magic that happens at this well-known brand every day.
In this edition of Real Humans: Alumni, we hear why Steve Van Vechten left the world of advertising and pursued his MBA to get more brand ownership and to become a decisionmaker. Read on to hear how Steve’s experience pivoting from an agency to the client side has broadened his scope of influence to better impact the business and how Cornell’s Strategic Product Marketing Immersion program prepared him.
Steve Van Vechten, Cornell Johnson MBA ’20, Senior Brand Manager for Bounty at Procter & Gamble
Hometown: Canandaigua, New York
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Hobart and William Smith College: Media Studies & Psychology, minor in Sociology
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration: Cornell University, Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management Class of 2020: Strategic Product Marketing Immersion
Pre-MBA Work Experience: 5 years, advertising
Why did you choose to attend business school?
Working at an advertising agency was energizing, and I enjoyed working with my clients to solve their business problems, but I ultimately wanted more ownership over the brand and to be a decision maker. Pivoting from an agency to the client side has allowed me to widen my scope of influence to better impact the business.
Why Cornell Johnson? Which factors influenced your decision?
I wanted a program with a “bunker mentality,” where all students were invested in seeing their peers succeed. Many programs tout their schools’ “tight-knit community,” but this rang truest at Cornell Johnson. I also appreciated the curriculum at Johnson — the accelerated core gave me a robust crash course in topics that I hadn’t yet been exposed to, while Johnson’s Immersion Program allowed me to sharpen my skills in a particular area of interest and ensured that I would be prepared for my summer internship.
What internship did you participate in during business school? Which factors influenced your decision?
Procter & Gamble, Brand Management. P&G invented brand management and has long been known for cultivating great business leaders. I was eager to learn P&G’s “secret sauce” while working on one of their legendary billion-dollar brands.
Why did you choose to work for your current company? Which factors influenced your decision?
My summer internship at P&G was intense, but it reaffirmed that brand management was the right next step for me. I loved the challenges and the work and I found it constantly energizing. It continues to energize me every day. It was also very clear how much P&G invests in their employees to ensure that they are successful, and this has always been important to me. I was eager to receive P&G’s legendary training.
How did your MBA experience prepare you for your current career?
The Immersion Program at Johnson provided me with an excellent foundation to build upon in my current career. Johnson’s Strategic Product Marketing Immersion helped me to think strategically and critically and gave me hands-on practice working with large international brands.
How has COVID impacted your industry/career plans?
As a Senior Brand Manager of Bounty Paper Towels, the pandemic has had a tremendous impact on my day-to-day work. With unprecedented demand for Bounty, my team has had to tactfully manage capacity constraints, inventory-stock outs across retailers, increased trial of competitive products, new cleaning occasions, and evolving shopping habits, all while continuing to deliver a superior product that can help our consumers keep their lives cleaner and healthier. It has been extremely rewarding work thanks to an incredibly creative and talented cross-functional team.
What advice would you give to a current MBA student? What do you wish you would have known? Is there anything you would have done differently?
Get outside of your comfort zone as often as possible. Take classes that you don’t think you’ll be good at or on topics that you haven’t been exposed to. Also, go on as many international treks as possible. I participated in Johnson treks to Japan, Israel, South Africa, Ghana, and Chilean Patagonia and learned as much from travelling as I did in the classroom.
Learn about more business school alumni like Steve Van Vechten by exploring our Real Humans: Alumni series.
To see what current students from Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management are up to, visit their Real Humans: Students profiles.