Our Stories

Pursuing Her Passion

Working with motivated and creative people was draw for aspiring marketer.

Madeleine McDonald
Brand Experience Platforms Planner, Digital Project Management at General Mills

Vanderbilt Master of Marketing 2022

For Madeleine McDonald, BrandWeek—a fast-paced competition in which student teams take on real-world branding assignments and present their ideas to real-world companies—exemplifies why she came to Vanderbilt to pursue a graduate degree in the field she loves.

Going into that week, she recalls, “I was really nervous. But I had the most amazing time collaborating, chugging coffee, and working late with my peers to problem solve for industry professionals. For most challenges, we were given one or two days to strategize, create, and then present. Company leaders and professors judged us as if we were agencies pitching recommendations. The panel of judges would then give feedback to every team.”

Madeleine’s team won their first challenge, presented by O.H. Ingram Whiskey. (She still has the bottle of whiskey each team member received as a prize.) The week’s biggest challenge, she recalls, came from Graduate Hotels. “Our team started brainstorming and idea pitching, but we couldn’t get a cohesive story going. Midway through the week, we recalibrated, took a step back, and came together in a way I’ve never experienced in a group project before.”

They went on to win that challenge, too, and as the program ended, she was still excited. “I love to work in groups and collaborate, and knowing that Owen/MMark faculty hand-selects and admits students who share the same passion and fire for marketing was a huge part of my decision to come here. I wanted to be challenged by and work alongside the most creative and motivated people in the field, and that’s exactly the environment Owen provided.”

The faculty, Madeleine says, made her experience even richer and more personal. “It's amazing because they are all so accomplished, yet so approachable. They really care about their students, and they take time to understand our backgrounds, and why we're at Vanderbilt, and where we want to go. It’s really encouraging to be in class with them because they teach and they lead with such respect for the students.”

Fun Fact: As a native of the Lowcountry region of South Carolina, Madeleine is happiest when she’s on the water: on the beach, in the pool, boating, or fishing with family and friends.

I wanted to be challenged by and work alongside the most creative and motivated people in the field.