MBA 12s at Work: Honest Tea

Welcome to MBA 12s at Work, a periodic series on the new career launches of the Berkeley MBA class of 2012.

MBA 12s at work Jenny BurnsGrad: Jenny Burns, MBA 12.

Working as: Brand Manager with Honest Tea in Bethesda, MD, responsible for all bottled tea and “ade” (e.g. juice) products. Her role includes product development and innovation, packaging, retail marketing and partnerships, and brand advertising.

Most excited to be working on: Helping develop a new line of zero-calorie sodas called Honest Fizz–the company’s first foray into carbonated drinks. “I feel such a sense of ownership and pride over the finished product.”

Honest Tea because: “I went to Berkeley-Haas specifically to work for a small, sustainable food or beverage company. I’m now in the exact role I described wanting in my admissions essay.”

Inside Honest Tea: “After 15 years (and acquisition by the Coca-Cola Company), our R&D lab is still located in our office, right next to the employee kitchen. I’m often greeted by boiling tea and wonderfully fragrant smells as I grab my breakfast each morning.”

Best career search strategies: Burns attended industry trade shows to stay on top of trends, new products, marketing tactics, and recent corporate acquisitions. “I was able to speak like an insider during interviews.” Mentoring and open office hours with the MBA Career Management Group provided “invaluable professional guidance before interviews and during negotiations.”

Classroom lessons in action: A Stonyfield Yogurt case from Wasim Azhar’s Channels of Distribution course detailing the structure and incentives of channels in the food industry helped Burns tailor Honest Tea’s bundle partnerships, marketing materials, and discounts “to better meet the needs of each of our key retailers and its shoppers.”

The Berkeley Innovative Leader Development (BILD) approach: “I took Entrepreneurship for my experiential learning class and the tools for developing an investor pitch have proved applicable to my work at Honest Tea. Managers are often too busy and impatient to deal with a lot of ‘process,’ but you still need to get everyone aligned before getting too far down a path. I’ve found creating mini pitch decks with a few key visuals and actionable insights are the best way to sell ideas up the chain.”

Living the D.C. life: Drinking wine and dancing to French pop music at an embassy party with classmates Asher Burns-Burg and Chelsea Tanaka felt “like such a ‘D.C.’ way to spend a Saturday night.”


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