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Real Humans of Nike: Anton de Avila, Berkeley Haas MBA ’22, Senior Brand Marketing Associate

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In this installment of Real Humans: Alumni, we head to Nike to meet Anton de Avila, who knew that to round out his business acumen, broaden his network, and gain great life experience, he would need an MBA. The small class size, humble community, and move from the Midwest to the West Coast enticed him to enroll at Berkeley Haas. Read his story below to learn how Haas helped de Avila pivot to consumer goods brand marketing at Nike, where he was selected as one of five associates for Nike’s post-MBA marketing leadership development program, completing four rotations across: Brand Planning, Brand Management, Creative Marketing, and Consumer Direct Marketing.

Anton de Avila, Berkeley Haas MBA ’22, Senior Brand Marketing Associate at Nike

Age: 29
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Michigan State University – Supply Chain Management; Minor in Economics
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration (if applicable): Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley, Class of 2022
Pre-MBA Work Experience (title, company, years, industry): Consultant -> Senior Consultant, EY, 4 years, Management Consulting
Post-MBA Work Experience (title, company, years, industry): Senior Brand Marketing Associate – Marketing Vanguard Program, Nike, 1.5 years

Why did you choose to attend business school?
I wanted to pivot from supply chain & operations consulting to brand marketing in the consumer goods space and thought earning an MBA would be a great way to round out my business acumen and broaden my network in addition to being a great life experience. Although consulting was a strong career launchpad and allowed me to learn about different industries and functions, I knew that I needed to make a significant pivot to find a career path that I was passionate about, and business school seemed like the perfect opportunity to make that transition while growing personally and professionally.

Why Haas? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
After spending the first 26 years of my life living in the Midwest, attending Haas presented an exciting opportunity to move to Northern California and explore the West Coast. I was also attracted to the smaller class size, world-class faculty, and humble community that Haas is known for.

What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career?
The fast-paced nature of the program has helped prepare me for the fast-moving rotational program that I am currently in. Haas’s core curriculum included several challenging quant-focused courses that helped me broaden my business acumen. I also took several  great marketing and strategy electives that have helped me hit the ground running in a new industry/function. Haas’s Career Management Group was another amazing resource as I explored different industries and potential career paths – I’m very grateful for the guidance they provided and the connections they helped me make to support my recruiting process as I searched for the best fit.

What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice?
Brand Management at PepsiCo. It was a great opportunity to learn about the FMCG space and helped me realize how important it was to me to find an organization where I felt aligned to the company’s mission and passionate about the products/services that they offered. The experience also helped me realize how different post-MBA marketing roles/career paths could be across different industries and companies – the more digging you do, the more confident you will feel about the path you choose.

Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
Nike has always been a dream company for me. I feel fortunate to have landed at a company where I’m passionate about the industry, the company’s mission/values, and to work for a brand with such a rich history. I was focused on finding an organization with a strong culture and emphasis on career development, and Nike’s Marketing Vanguard program seemed like an incredible way to launch my post-MBA marketing career and gain accelerated hands-on experience across upstream and downstream marketing teams in a short period of time. As a marketer, and lifelong lover of sports, Nike also provides an incredible platform to inspire and connect people all around the world.

Advice to current MBA students:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
Prioritize finding a healthy work environment that supports learning & development. Talk to as many people as possible to learn about different roles, industries, career paths, etc.  LinkedIn can also be an incredibly powerful tool to connect with people outside of your network – even if most of your cold messages go unanswered, you may be surprised by the connections that you are able to make and the opportunities that those connections/conversations may lead to!

–One thing you would change or do differently as part of the job search?
Avoid stressing about finding the perfect opportunity – there are so many great post-MBA launchpad opportunities and so many different paths that can lead to a successful, fulfilling career. Recruiting can be an intense and long-winded rollercoaster ride, but do your best to embrace the process and opportunity to learn about different industries, companies, etc.

–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
It was a straightforward process that consisted of two rounds of interviews. Connecting with recent MBA grads that had recently joined Nike was helpful as I prepared for the interviews.

–What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
Have as many conversations as you can with as many people as you can… other students, faculty, alumni, LinkedIn contacts etc. to help you explore different career paths and decide what’s best for you. Be intentional about how you want to spend your time and what you want to get out of the experience.. it will fly by. Above all else, enjoy the experience!!

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.