Fashionable career change

Transitioning in style from engineering to fashion, MBA student Daya Fields is excited about joining Estée Lauder this summer

MBA student Daya Fields

Landing a marketing position in the beauty industry with no prior background is no small feat, but Daya Fields, MBA '07, used her time at MIT Sloan to do just that. Through various consulting projects, networking, and a good deal of hitting the pavement, Fields transitioned a career in operations and business analysis within the media and entertainment industry to a future full-time position at Estée Lauder.

After a consulting project at Polo Ralph Lauren confirmed her love of luxury product distribution, Fields was offered a prestigious summer internship with L'Oreal USA in New York City. It was there that she gained her first hands-on experience in the beauty industry. Working in the luxury productions division with the Giorgio Armani brand, she developed a launch strategy for a product line that will be coming to the U.S. in September of 2007.

Responsible for everything from deciding on which products to launch, to setting the pricing, to determining the promotional strategy, Fields spent the summer talking to industry experts and performing data analysis through A.C. Nielsen and Nielsen Public Data. The end result of her work was an extensive launch strategy which was then presented to senior management. The experience, she says, made her certain that the beauty industry was exactly where she wanted to be.

“I consider myself pretty current in business strategy within the world of fashion, skincare, hair care, and cosmetics. Why not mirror my personal interests with a career? I enjoy learning about how celebrities and other public figures affect a brand's sales, positioning and image — I'm also fascinated by marketing strategy. Thinking about the beauty industry both short and long term and being able to come up with competitive strategies to gain market share is very challenging and rewarding.”

Successful switch hitter

Fields sees herself as an example of someone who has been able to succeed as a career switcher, and she thanks MIT Sloan in large part for that.

“Because I was a mechanical engineering major with a math minor, all of my jobs up until this point had been very technical. I was not going to be able to make a switch to a marketing job for a company I really admired, because I didn't have any direct experience. Coming to MIT Sloan and using these two years to work on different consulting projects with different brands — and really get my feet wet and know the market — was the best way for me to be able to transition.”

MIT Sloan's marketing curriculum benefited Fields by teaching her all aspects of her desired specialty.

“The curriculum I chose focused on marketing, communications, and customer relationship management as well as modeling marketing information and data analysis. All of this exposure really helps make you a stronger marketer. People think marketing and brand management is just a qualitative job. But it's also about analytics and learning how to really understand how the market is growing or shrinking, and how to figure out your next strategic move in order to capitalize on opportunities that others don't see.”

Fostering fashion — and leadership

This semester Fields is participating in a brand management and marketing focused program in Spain — an emerging country in Europe for fashion and beauty — and after graduation she looks forward to beginning what she describes as her dream job at Estee Lauder.

The position is part of the rotational Presidential Management Program. As one of only six MBAs chosen every other year, Fields will be rotated as a brand manager for three of Estée Lauder's 24 prestige brands before being placed as a permanent brand manager with one of them. Being chosen for the program means she is automatically on a senior management track.

“You get an executive level mentor, and the perks are amazing,” Fields explains. “And it is a program that really fosters you to become an executive level leader within the beauty industry and within the firm.”

Related Links