After working in the consulting and gaming industries, Josh Kanter, WG’15, followed his passion last year as Chief Marketing Officer of PetSmart. “I felt connected to the industry because pets bring such joy to our lives. I have an 18-month dog, and I feel lucky to have her in my family,” he said. He’s since become Global Chief Marketing Officer at International Cruise & Excursions Inc.
When Josh came to Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives, this type of C-level role was his goal. Beginning his career as a consultant, he was working as a senior vice president at Caesars Entertainment in Las Vegas when he came to Wharton. Caesars CEO Gary Loveman, a former Harvard Business School professor, jokingly told Josh that he wouldn’t amount to much without a “vocational education,” meaning an MBA.
“I agreed with Gary. As effective as I was in my career in marketing, I wanted to become a senior leader and knew that I needed to fill gaps in my business education to be a good peer to other C-level leaders,” said Josh, who studied psychology, women’s studies, and music in college. “I wanted to get an MBA to broaden my knowledge and find out what I didn’t know.”
Looking into his options, he came to Wharton’s EMBA program in San Francisco for its reputation as a top program and its proximity to Las Vegas.
By the time he graduated, Josh was ready for the next phase in his career. He explained, “Before getting my MBA, I didn’t believe I had the credentials for a CMO role. After Wharton, I felt a lot more confident that I understood the complexity involved at that level and was ready to make a change. I was looking for a company where my work would help me make a positive impact in the world and enrich people’s lives – and I wanted to do that at scale.”
He found what he was looking for at PetSmart. “In the role, I got to help make the world a better place every day.” As CMO, he was responsible for all aspects of the company’s customer engagement strategy, including brand strategy, loyalty marketing, customer experience, and promotional strategy.
Josh said, “I had a team of talented marketing leaders and my role was to ask the right questions and provide guidance.” As a member of the senior leadership team, he helped the corporation make the right strategic decisions and those decisions often spanned disciplines, as there are tradeoffs that require understanding of different areas of the business.
“I could have those conversations because of the immersive experience I had at Wharton,” Josh said. “This program is a lot of time and hard work, but it’s incredibly rewarding and worthwhile.”
Four Benefits of EMBA’s Program I Still Use Today
“I took Financial Accounting with Vice Dean Peggy Bishop Lane and it was one of the hardest classes I’ve ever taken – and I like math! But I’ve gotten more mileage from that class than I expected. It’s been incredibly useful in my marketing career and in my role as CMO.”
“Over the last several years, I’ve had the opportunity to form corporate partnerships with a handful of alumni. It’s amazing how helpful the Wharton network is, and more specifically the EMBA network. Everyone is motivated to keep in touch for advice, networking, and to do business.
The bicoastal aspect of the program means you can double your network. I got to know my classmates in San Francisco, and then I switched campuses for a four-month term to meet my classmates in Philadelphia and be closer to my Caesars team in Atlantic City, NJ. Meeting the East Coast students enriched the program for me.”
“Being part of a class of extraordinary classmates was inspiring and humbling. Having this peer set helped me to retain humility about things I had accomplished, which was an important lesson as I was preparing for larger professional roles. It’s important to stay grounded and recognize the amazing accomplishments of others.
“I knew I would meet amazing people, but I didn’t realize that I would have the opportunity to make new best friends. Two of them were in my wedding, and one of them was a pastor who performed the ceremony.”
— Meghan Laska
Posted: September 28, 2018