Club Spotlight – Foster Marketing Association

The Foster Marketing Association’s (FMA) mission is to connect students with the Marketing community and provide them with resources for a successful Marketing career. In this feature, current co-presidents Priyanka Gadkari and Sam Wilkes, Full-Time MBA ‘24 share their insights.

Please tell us a bit about yourselves.

Priyanka: I am originally from Atlanta, GA and went to Georgia Tech for undergrad. Soon after graduation, I moved to San Francisco where I worked in the Retail/CPG space. I built my career starting off as an Inventory Planner at Williams-Sonoma and eventually as a Vendor Manager in Amazon Fashion right before I started at Foster. I’ve lived in Seattle for the last two years with my husband and mini golden-doodle, Gatsby!

Sam: I’m originally from Cleveland, OH, attended Miami University (OH), and had worked for five years in various B2B marketing roles at Johnson Controls before heading to Seattle to join the Foster MBA program. I value creativity, to the extent that I taught myself how to produce videos and podcasts for my previous role. This exploration has influenced the next phase of my career, including this past summer’s internship with Amazon Music’s Podcast team.


What unique role does FMA play in promoting students’ goals at Foster? 

Sam: We achieve our mission through events that focus on a variety of areas: First, exposure to the variety of industries and positions that fall within Marketing. Speakers are brought in to talk about the wide variety of marketing applications in different roles and industries, because marketing is such a vast field. Second, networking with local alumni and marketing leaders to create impactful relationships. Foster has a strong reputation within the marketing field, and we aim to engage FMA members with this network. Lastly, recruitment preparation for any marketing position with insights pertaining to a wide array of companies. We know not all our club members will go into marketing roles, but this club’s events will also help build appreciation and collaborative support for their future marketing colleagues.


How has your club influenced the continued evolution of the Foster MBA program?

Priyanka: Companies across industries love Foster marketers. Foster students will be a huge asset to companies like Microsoft who are looking to hire graduating students who have a solid understanding of brand, strategic marketing and advertising, and promotion. Whether it is ensuring availability of marketing specializations, coordinating with marketing faculty or working as a feedback channel bringing voices of industry leaders to the table, we help in ensuring up-to-date resources are available for any student who wants to develop a career in Marketing. 

Beyond building marketing leaders, our events emphasize building skills and knowledge that will transfer to any role they may have in the future. 


Which cub events have been most popular or successful and why? 

Sam: The Super Bowl Ad Review is generally one of our more popular events. Last year it was by far the most popular event of the entire year. The students are invited to join the marketing faculty to review advertisements aired at the Superbowl. It is a fun, informal event which uses strategic frameworks to assess the impact of Super Bowl spots. Last year, the event was hosted by our superstar marketing faculty Mark Forehand and Simha Mummalaneni. We facilitate students rating each ad, and finally run a series of polls, tournament-style, to find the winner. Google Pixel was the big winner last year, which used brand awareness as the campaign objective. Close competitors were Crown Royal, Farmer’s Dog and PopCorners. We built a knockout structure to find the winner, which definitely helped in building adrenaline and getting everyone invested in the process. 

Superbowl ads review

Super Bowl Ad review 2023

What have you learned about leadership while in this role?

Priyanka: As the co-president of FMA, I am reminded that a lot of leadership positions are driven by pure passion to serve the community. It was an absolute pleasure to lead a team of the most brilliant MBA students who shared a passion for helping each student get a step closer to their dream. The most important job of a leader is to establish the vision which provides direction to the whole team. The leader is important to bring motivation and stability in tough times. They figure out what the right values are and inculcate them in the team. Being a representative of a prominent professional club at Foster has also given me confidence to connect with the biggest industry leaders in order to introduce them to the student community. It is a big responsibility, but it also became the fire which drove me to create value.  

Sam: I am continually impressed by the skills and talents of others in this club, and my leadership skills have developed through osmosis. I am used to operating mostly on my own skills and creativity, but putting together the student board and marketing events alongside Priyanka has showcased just how important and advantageous it is to utilize the strengths of others. None of what FMA has accomplished could be achieved alone, and I’m thrilled to have experienced this lesson in leadership firsthand.


What were your expectations and intentions as you took on the role? Did your experience line up? What has been enjoyable? Challenging? Surprising?

Priyanka: I remember applying for the leadership position in my first year because I could see the impact Foster Marketing Association can have at Foster. As an MBA, marketing is a big part of our growth. A lot of us including myself come from a background where we haven’t worked in marketing before school and our pivoting into a role which requires us to at least know about it if not be an expert at it. I just wanted to make that journey easier for those students who don’t come from a marketing background like me.


Do you have a favorite memory of your time with the club?

Sam: The Super Bowl Ad Review is FMA’s marquee event. Last year we revamped the event to be more interactive, adding a bracket-style voting competition alongside two of our esteemed marketing professors’ assessments to come to a sole winner of best advertisement during the Super Bowl. Going the extra mile to make it more fun resulted in one of the highest-attended club events of both last and this year. We had a few students let us know they decided to take more marketing classes because they enjoyed the event so much, and that verified the aspirations and mission of the club. 

Priyanka: This is a tough one. Honestly, I think it was the panels that we ran near the beginning of the year on Retail/CPG Marketing and Tech Marketing – Sam and I had so many students reaching out to us after the event telling us how helpful they were and how it helped to point them in the right direction. It’s moments like these that are super rewarding to me and help me to understand that our leadership is actually making an impact.


Which students or why do students join your club? 

Priyanka: Anyone who is passionate about marketing, or even curious! We are a welcoming community who really appreciates the resources and experience a seasoned marketing professional would bring to the table but we are also really dedicated towards members who don’t have any of such experience and are considering pivoting into marketing. As a member you’ll get priority on resource-constrained events and you get access to the preparation resources that the club has developed/collected over the years which can be helpful during job interviews.


What tips do you have for incoming MBA students as to why they should join the FMA’s leadership?

Sam: Introducing yourself as a representative of the Foster Marketing Association is a great opening line to any professional conversation. It immediately establishes a wonderful impression where the listener knows that there is a reason you are representing such an important community. I also think that considering Foster is such a student-run community, it is upon us to keep the fire alive and ensure that the wheel of giving keeps turning.