Beyond the Classroom : A Day with Mattel CEO Robert Eckert
By Liz Warren-Pederson
Undergraduate winners of the Marketing Department’s Think Forward awards traveled to California to shadow Eller alum.
In April, Kate Thompson and Lisa Eisenberg traveled to El Segundo, California, to shadow Mattel CEO and Eller alum Robert Eckert for the day.
The students both received Eller marketing department Think Forward awards. The Eller Times checked in with them for an update on the shadow experience.
In Her Words: Kate Thompson, BSBA Marketing ’09
The entire day was full of amazing opportunities and exciting events. We arrived on a Wednesday evening, went straight to meet Robert Eckert, and just sat in his office and talked. He asked us about ourselves, school, our future, etc. Mr. Eckert is very easy to talk to, comfortable to be around, down-to-earth and very genuine and sincere. He is a humble leader and has created a culture at Mattel that makes you want to stick around for a long time. Lisa and I went to dinner with just Mr. Eckert, which gave us a chance to get to know him even better. We asked questions about Mattel, talked about his family, his dogs, our families, his background and history, etc.
The next day we arrived at his office, which is full of toys, of course, and began one of the coolest days of my life. We attended a meeting on corporate responsibility in the Presentation Theater which discussed current and future initiatives for "playing responsibly." We then went to an internal Spring product line review for Barbie, which was probably one of the coolest things I have ever seen. It was like a fashion show. We then headed up to Mr. Eckert’s office and met with the executive vice president of worldwide operations and saw him present a SKU update to Mr. Eckert. We learned how they are trying to cut operating costs.
We also attended a design concept review for the Global Citizenship Report, which is to debut this summer. We saw a design agency present their concepts for the report. They asked us for our input as well. Around noon we ate lunch in the Mattel Cafeteria, where Mr. Eckert likes to eat every day since it gives him a chance to interact with Mattel employees he normally doesn't get to see that often. We ate lunch with Geoff, the senior vice president of corporate responsibility. Once we finished lunch, we headed back to Mr. Eckert’s office and met with the senior vice president of human resources.
In the afternoon, we headed over to the newly renovated Design Center (where we got our picture taken in front of the life-size Hot Wheels car) and learned a lot about designing, creating, and producing Barbie, Hot Wheels, Matchbox, etc. We even got to record our voices in the recording studio which they inserted into a Barbie and gave to us as a gift. That was quite exciting!
I am so thankful to Eller, specifically the marketing department, for creating the Thinking Forward Awards. It gives students a unique and unforgettable opportunity. What other students get to say "I shadowed the CEO of Mattel for a day?" Eller can teach me about business, but moving away from the classroom and into the corporate setting has allowed me valuable insight and overall visibility from the CEO's perspective.