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Indiana University Bloomington

Marketing

The Globe Trotter

Carolyn (Walker) Valentine MBA'99

General Manager of Performance Nutrition for Europe, Abbott Laboratories

Lake Forest, Illinois

Its hard to calculate the value I gained from the Kelley experience because it continues to grow and expand each year. Im very lucky to be able to say that I have my dream job.

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There’s no such thing as a typical day for Carolyn Valentine.

As the general manager of performance nutrition for Europe at Abbott Laboratories, one week she may be working in Amsterdam, the next in the United Kingdom with the field sales team or attending focus groups in Spain, and the next in Chicago, developing innovation strategies.

“Working in global performance nutrition is exciting,” Valentine says. “There’s never a dull moment.”

Abbott is a global health care company devoted to discovering new medicines and technologies. Historically, Abbott’s roots are in pharmaceuticals, and its promotion strategy is medically driven, Valentine says. Its product offerings span from medical devices and pharmaceutical therapies to nutritional products and diagnostics.

Valentine says that Abbott’s nutrition division focuses on marketing strategies that drive consumer demand. “We behave more like a classic consumer packaged goods company,” she says. “We leverage consumer research to develop marketing strategies that build brand equity across our nutrition portfolio.”

These marketing strategies include everything from media advertising to in-store promotion to the Internet, Valentine says. Her role is to help drive the strategic thinking across the company’s international affiliate teams.

A 1999 graduate of the Kelley MBA marketing program, Valentine constantly uses the skills she learned at Kelley, from the frameworks of marketing and finance to knowing how to attack a strategic marketing challenge.

“Given my international responsibilities, I use many of the principles I learned in my international business classes,” she says, adding that working on internationally diverse project teams was also helpful.

“It’s hard to calculate the value I gained from the Kelley experience because it continues to grow and expand each year,” she says. “Besides earning a top-notch MBA, I gained invaluable insight from the professors and the tremendous diversity of talent among the students in my class.”

Valentine entered the program with a background in retail sales management in the clothing industry and knew right away that she wanted to work in a “classic” brand management environment.

Kelley was a good fit for several reasons—the strong, balanced approach to MBA learning through a combination of lectures, team-oriented project work, and case studies; its strong reputation among consumer packaged goods companies; and its status as a founding member of the Consortium for Graduate Studies in Management, which strives to increase representation of minorities in both school enrollment and ranks of management.

Valentine thought this showed a long-term commitment to diversity. She also loved the atmosphere: “It was open and friendly, yet clearly an MBA program that was focused on producing the best MBA talent.”

Since graduating from the program in 1999, Valentine has stayed involved with Kelley’s MBA recruiting efforts and currently serves on Abbott’s recruiting team. She also keeps in touch with other alumni, many of whom are in leadership positions within Abbott. Having worked at Abbott since 2005—she was hired in as a commercial director for Europe and Canada on the nutrition business—she has noticed the company’s long history of success with Kelley graduates.

“I love the fact that I’m doing exactly what I wanted to do with my Kelley MBA—delivering quality consumer products that improve people’s lives on a global scale,” she says.

“I consider myself very lucky to be able to say that I have my dream job. I have a great career that is significantly driven by having earned an excellent MBA experience and degree from Kelley.”

In Brief
Best Kelley moment:

GRADUATION!

Favorite thing about Bloomington:

Yogi’s and the IU Tennis Center.

Web sites I visit every day:

“I definitely do not have time to visit any Web site every day, but given my travel schedule I’m a frequent visitor to United Airlines and the shoe Web site, Zappos.”

Most exciting thing about my job:

“Having the opportunity to work daily with incredibly talented people from all over the world.”

Published April 7, 2011