Chicago Professionals Bring Real-World Learning to DePaul Classrooms

As a category manager at Walgreen Co., Nate Muszczynski (BUS '11) is responsible for the store chain's beer sales nationwide. He and his team of employees work diligently with vendors, store managers and a host of others to ensure his division's success within the largest drugstore retailer in the United States.

And now that his team is expanding, there's one university that tops his recruiting efforts — DePaul. He has already helped recruit DePaul business graduates for analysts positions throughout Walgreens. Now he's looking for more to help build his team.

"The reason I keep going back to DePaul is because I believe the sales and marketing program at the Driehaus College of Business trains students better than any other program I've seen," says Muszczynski. "The program provides students opportunities to solve real business problems. This trains students so that they can leave the classroom one day and show up the next day ready to work."

DePaul business alumnus Juan Lopez celebrates with Marketing Professor Emeritus Robert O'Keefe. Lopez landed a job at 3M and says it was his work with 3M executives in his DePaul classes that helped him to get the job.

Chicago Professionals
DePaul business alumnus Juan Lopez celebrates with Marketing Professor Emeritus Robert O'Keefe. Lopez landed a job at 3M and says it was his work with 3M executives in his DePaul classes that helped him to get the job.

DePaul Marketing Department Partners with Industry

Muszczynski is one of the dozens of industry professionals who collaborate with DePaul business faculty to create a sales and marketing curriculum that aligns with industry needs.

In all, 64 companies, nearly all Fortune 500 companies based in Chicago, work with the Department of Marketing and Center for Sales Leadership to help guide the curriculum, direction and outcomes for the college's sales and marketing program.

The collaboration goes beyond guest lectures and presentations. DePaul business students get firsthand knowledge of how some of the largest Fortune 500 companies make sales and marketing decisions. Working on live case studies offers DePaul business students a 360-view of how the sales process actually works. Students learn from major players who manage billions of dollars in retail transactions nationwide.

"We work in a unique way," says Daniel Strunk, executive In residence and managing director of the Center for Sales Leadership. "In our classes we use live data, data that is current and real. What's even more unique is that we are always working on a business problem that affects both our manufacturing and retail partners."

Industry Contacts Help DePaul Business Alumni

For Juan Lopez (BUS '15) the Cases in Category Management class proved especially illuminating. In the class, Lopez and his group were presented with a classic business issue involving product presentation and its effect on sales. Walmart, a retailer that needs no introduction, and 3M, a manufacturer that is equally well known, were having a problem.

Sales for 3M's Command strips were rising everywhere except within Walmart's hardware section. The product is an adhesive that allows buyers to hang home décor articles on walls.

Lopez and his team poured over real data given to them by 3M and Walmart executives. The students looked at profit and loss statements, purchases, sales volumes, display information and competitor sales — everything that had to do with the sale of Command strips. The students also had access to current industry technology such as JDA software, which is a leading tech resource for retail planning and supply chain management. But that wasn't all.

"The bonus was that the category manager from Walmart came to our classroom and gave us her insight," Lopez said. "And two people from 3M also came to the class and explained how the product was used, its advantages and how they launched the product into the marketplace."

Real-World Experience Gives Edge to DePaul Business Students

Using the data and the inside business knowledge from retail and manufacturing professionals, Lopez and his team came up with various solutions to increase sales.

"This was our entire 10 weeks of class," Lopez said. "There was no textbook. Instead we had different business professionals come into class and they would be our lesson for the day.

"Having industry people with actual experience in what you're learning in the classroom and then working on projects that incorporate that learning provided a rich educational experience."

Lopez parlayed that educational experience into an industry job. He started work at 3M in July.

"As a student, that's ultimately what you look for in every class you take," says Lopez. "You want to be able to take what you learned in class and apply it to your actual career. That's always the goal. And that's what we did in DePaul's sales leadership program."


Learn more about DePaul's undergraduate business degree, DePaul MBA in Marketing, MBA in Marketing Strategy and Planning and MS in Marketing Analysis​.​