Marketing Lessons from An Experienced Beginner

Carol-SchusterMarketing professional and entrepreneur Carol Schuster ’83 has worked with major clients such as Coca-Cola, Dupont and DHL in a global career that has spanned more than 25 years. But she still describes herself as a beginner. “I try to look at everything I do as a beginner,” Schuster said Oct. 7, 2011, at Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona.

Being a beginner, however, does not mean setting aside the importance of experience, education and expertise. Schuster said the key is to remain teachable and flexible. “It is really about curiosity,” Schuster said. “It’s a mood you have about something.”

Schuster, a member of Thunderbird’s Board of Fellows, shared her insights in a roundtable discussion organized by the Thunderbird Marketing Association. During the event, she drew upon her recent experience as founder and president of TantesHaus, an online luxury fashion reseller. Prior to launching the startup, Schuster worked as Senior Partner and Worldwide Managing Director of Ogilvy & Mather. She has lived and worked in Germany, Poland, the United States and other global locations since graduating from Thunderbird in 1983.

Her beginner’s mindset served her well when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, and companies scrambled to enter East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Russia and other former Soviet republics. “I took advantage of an opportunity when it presented itself,” Schuster said. “Nobody wanted to go except for me.”
She started flying into Eastern European markets and setting up field offices. Soon she helped establish a permanent operation in Poland and stayed in the region for about five years. “Everybody was just getting started,” she said. “There was this pioneering spirit.”

Schuster said the same mindset has helped with the launch of TantesHaus. Despite her decades of success, she is still learning new things and exploring new possibilities. “Every time I find something new and exciting, the world opens up for me,” she said. “That is why I started this business. I have always wanted to do something in fashion and retail.”

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