The MSM Advisory Council is comprised of industry leaders with the purpose of advising the MSM staff on the development of the program. Council members serve as liaisons and advocates of the MSM Program, offer advice and guidance to the curriculum committee, and assist in student recruitment and student mentorship to strengthen the overall student experience. Members have the opportunity to participate in MSM practicum projects, networking events and student treks.
Healthy Life Enterprises, Inc.
Principal Product Manager
Spencer Burkhart is a recent graduate from the Master of Science in Marketing program at the McCombs School of Business. Before his time at McCombs, he studied mathematics and received his Bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at Austin where he became interested in the intersection of applied math and business.
He currently works at Amplify Snacks, a division of The Hershey Company, here in Austin on their FP&A team responsible for P&L management and monitoring the financial performance of Amplify’s brands.
Strategy and Consulting Analyst
Alefiya Dhilla is currently the Vice President and Head of Marketing and Growth at A Cloud Guru. She was previously Head of Growth Marketing with Indeed.com.
Lawrence Emembolu is the Director, Shopper Strategy - North America Shopper Insights at PepsiCo. He brings 8+ years of experience to his current role where he is responsible for using Shopper Insights to realize PepsiCo’s vision to delight and connect with every consumer. Previously, Lawrence held multiple roles in PepsiCo’s Global and U.S. businesses focused on strategy, insights, product development and analytics, where he won numerous CMO and sector awards. Prior to joining PepsiCo, he led initiatives at Dunnhumby and Humana that were focused on forecasting, segmentation and propensity modeling.
Lawrence is passionate about initiatives around poverty alleviation and economic empowerment in his home country of Nigeria. He holds his undergraduate and master’s degrees in Economics (with a focus on Econometrics and Data analysis) and currently lives in Dallas, TX
Director, Channel Strategy
Keurig Dr. Pepper (KDP)
Evans serves as the Director of Channel Strategy at Keurig Dr Pepper (KDP), a coffee and beverage company with over $11 billion in annual sales. In this role, his team is responsible for identifying growth opportunities, prioritizing initiatives, and serving as the commercial point for the Mass (Walmart & Target), Small Format (Convenience, Dollar, and Drug), and Club channels.
In prior roles, Evans was a leader on the KDP corporate strategy team and practiced as a management consultant at KPMG in its Customer Strategy & Growth service line.
Evans holds an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin where he served as President of his class and was awarded the Dean's Leadership & Service award. He earned a BA in Business from Rhodes College, graduating magna cum laude. Evans currently resides in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Vice President of Strategy and Insights
Angie is currently the Director of Strategy & Analytics at Springbox, an Austin based firm focused on helping their clients, including Dell and HomeAway, achieve competitive advantage through digital leadership. Her team analyzes behaviors to inform marketing and technology solutions in partnership with creative, UX designers and developers. Previously, she was Senior Director of Strategy & Insights at W2O Group, where she built modern marketing strategies and plans for clients like Visa, Intel, HP/HPE, Overstock.com, Coca-Cola, Fidelity, Best Buy and Western Digital. Prior to W2O, Angie had a brand side marketing career at both Dell and Verizon where she held various roles in consumer marketing, all threaded by her passion for creating meaningful and relevant connections through the use of insight and innovation. Notably, she helped launch Verizon FiOS as part of the Product Marketing team, the largest historical telecommunications investment at the time, leading digital and experiential marketing efforts. She holds a bachelors in business/marketing from the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business ('01) and an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business ('09). She loves the outdoors, music and connecting people to inspire the next level.
Head of Growth Business, Head of Austin Office
Bytdance, Inc. - TikTok
Garland previously served as Head of Industry on the Global Marketing Solutions team focused on advertising and branding with Consumer Packaged Goods, Retail, eCommerce, Energy and Logistics clients. Prior to Facebook, Garland lead Global Product Marketing at Bazaarvoice a NASDAQ listed SaaS technology company. Additionally, Garland spent 5 years at General Mills as a traditional brand marketer. In his time at GMI, he managed P&L’s across iconic brands such as Pillsbury, Green Giant and Progresso.
Before business school, Garland worked as a management consultant at Accenture where he learned how to write code and develop C-Suite strategies. Garland is a proud Longhorn who earned his MBA from Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management. He lives in Austin with his wife and two daughters (and their dog, Rose).
Director, Customer Data Analytics
Marissa is currently the Senior Vice President - Marketing, Innovation and R&D for Dean Foods.
Marissa previously was Senior Director of Global Premium Snacks at PepsiCo. In her role, she developed and oversaw implementation of the growth strategy and plans for PepsiCo’s $1.5B global premium snacks portfolio of brands.
Marissa has held several marketing roles of increasing responsibility at PepsiCo, from building global marketing capability to leading brand innovation at Frito-Lay North America, to driving shopper marketing with emerging channels and established retailers, to managing iconic brands like Lay’s, Cheetos and Rold Gold.
She has been recognized for her work in 2014 as Brand Innovator “40 Under 40,” in 2011 as Frito-Lay’s “Marketer of the Year” and in 2009 with the Gold Ogilvy Award for excellence in strategic advertising.
Prior to business school, she worked in finance for Nortel Networks and was an entrepreneur. She received her BBA in Finance, BA in Spanish and MBA in Marketing from The University of Texas at Austin.
Marissa and her husband, Jon, have a 5 year old son, Henry, and live in Plano, Texas.
Vice President of Insights and Analytics
The University of Texas at Austin
Director of CCIMS
Creating experiential learning opportunities for McCombs' best Marketing and Supply Chain students.
- Executive Director at The University of Texas System October 2006 - Present Creates and enables interaction between students, industry and faculty toenhance educational experiences, employment opportunities, and meaningful research in marketing and supply chain.
- Various Sales and Sales Management Positions at Procter & Gamble June 1970 - May1988 (18 years) Field Sales Management Positions in various markets
- Director, North American Customer Services & Logistics June 1988 - January 2004 (15 years 8 months): Led CustomerServices/Logistics for US, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Responsibilities included Customer Service, Order Management, Transportation results and purchasing, Third Party Warehousing, Accounts Receivable,Demand Forecasting, and Customer Logistics. Reported to North American President in final assignment.
Education: The University of Texas at Austin - The Red McCombs School of Business BBA, Finance,1967 - 1970
Adjunct Professor, TCU
Chris recently completed a 25-year career with Sabre ™, a $3B global provider of software and marketplace solutions for the travel industry, where he held a variety of senior sales, general management, and marketing roles. During his last four years as Sabre ™'s Chief Marketing Officer, Chris lead a team responsible for Sabre ™'s worldwide strategy, solutions portfolio, and brand.
Chris is now an Adjunct Professor of Marketing at Texas Christian University and serves as the Advisory Council Chair for the Masters of Science in Marketing program from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. In addition, Chris is CEO of Chris Kroeger Consulting, LLC and is a partner in Social Venture Partners of Dallas, an organization focused on helping non-profits drive greater impact in their communities through strengthened business effectiveness.
Chris graduated with a BBA (1988) and MBA (1989) from the University of Texas at Austin. He lives in Keller, Texas with his wife Stacy and his teenage children Sage and Kysen.
Senior Customer Insights Analyst
Senior Product Manager
Executive in Residence, McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin
Senior Vice President, Global Brand and Experiential
Director, Marketing Technology
Director of Marketing
Kathryn recently returned to Austin after several years away since graduating from The University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business. She worked in media sales for NewsCorp in both Dallas and Chicago and moved to New York where she earned her MBA from NYU Stern. Kathryn has a big passion for marketing and brand strategy. She’s been working at Kraft/Mondelez for the past five years on brands including Starbucks Coffee, Stride Gum, Ritz Crackers and Halls as a Brand Manager. She's also passionate about coaching startups and non-profits and is involved with Andy Roddick Foundation here in Austin, serving on their Leadership Council
Chief Digital Officer
Bank of Montreal
Brett Pitts is the Chief Digital Officer, BMO Financial Group. He leads the bank’s digital portfolio and oversees North American virtual channel experiences and operations for digital and the contact centre. He is focused on accelerating BMO’s digital agenda to deliver industry-leading customer experiences and encourage digital adoption for our customers and team.
The BMO Digital team is comprised of Canada and U.S. digital strategy, experience, and platforms for sales, marketing, and servicing experiences, as well as the North American Customer Contact Centre (the NACCC). With teams across North America, the NACCC provides assisted service to millions of customers annually through phone and other collaborative capabilities including email, messaging, chat/chatbots, and social media.
Prior to joining BMO in 2017, Brett spent 17 years at Wells Fargo, most recently as the Executive Vice President and Group Head of Digital, responsible for all aspects of the bank’s digital channels and experiences for the company’s retail customers, including consumer, small business, wealth and digital payments. This included accountability for almost 30 million active digital customers and over 5.5 billion interactions per year.
Brett has an MBA, specializing in Management Information Systems, from the Eller Graduate School of Management at the University of Arizona, and a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Texas at Austin.
Customer Insights Manager
Marketing Analytics & Insights Analyst
The Hershey Company
Parth Sharma is a recent graduate from the masters in marketing program at McCombs school of business, UT Austin. He is currently working as a Marketing Analytics and Insights analyst at The Hershey Company, where his role is focused on deriving insights to optimize direct marketing investments and fuel strategic brand decisions.
Before joining McCombs, he served as an interior designer in the research & development vertical of Suzuki Motors, India. There, he managed projects for automotive seats' development, led a market research initiative, and acquired a deep interest in consumer-centric business growth. He holds an undergrad degree in automotive engineering.
Vice President, Head of Corporate Strategy
Dine Brands Global
Karen Starns is Chief Marketing Officer of OJO Labs. She is responsible for developing scaled channels to rapidly grow OJO's user base, building a brand that consumers love and can’t live without, and helping create a powerhouse employer brand that reflects their mission and values.
In this role, Starns oversees the global management of the OJO brand, including consumer insights, digital marketing, creative development and agency management, marketing effectiveness, media, public relations, and portfolio and innovation pipeline strategy. Building brands that connect with people is a passion, and she believes that great customer and partner experience across every touchpoint is a difference maker.
Starns joined OJO Labs in July 2019 to take on the newly created Chief Marketing Officer role. She previously spearheaded Brand and Customer Experience at Amazon with a focus on Echo and Alexa, Kindle, Fire TV, and the portfolio of smart home offerings. As SVP of Global Marketing at Pearson, Starns focused on building a customer-centered brand. In her first stint at Amazon, she led global advertising planning and media advocated for a greater focus on Amazon brand strategy. Earlier in her career, Starns spent 13 years at Microsoft, heading brand portfolio strategy, global advertising, Bing consumer marketing, and Dynamics audience marketing.
Starns has also served as an advisor to startups and social enterprises and a juror for industry awards in brand and marketing. A proud Longhorn, with a BBA in Marketing from the University of Texas at Austin and a founding Advisory Council member for the McCombs Master of Science in Marketing program, she was the MS Programs 2019 Commencement Speaker.
Starns is a runner; a voracious reader; and a fan of typography, photography, and painting. Through mentorship and community involvement, she’s motivated to make a difference, live a life that positively influences others, and invest in people and ideas that will have a lasting impact. Starns lives in both Austin and Seattle with her two teenagers and husband.
Trenzio is the former Executive Vice President and Partner for Sanders\Wingo.
Head of Growth Brands
Mike Westgate manages TikTok’s US Growth Brand business, supporting hundreds of midmarket brand clients with unique marketing and advertising solutions. Before TikTok, Westgate was VP of Marketing at Briggo Coffee, the world's first robotic barista, responsible for B2B & B2C brand strategy, PR & communications, product marketing, and retail sales programs. Prior to Briggo, he was VP of Marketing for commercial real estate data marketplace startup, RealMassive. Prior, he led marketing and client engagements for W2O Group, a network of digital marketing agencies supporting Fortune 500 marketers with customer insights, strategy, and analytics. Before W2O Group, he spent nearly four years at Microsoft in Windows product marketing and SMB audience marketing roles, both in Seattle and in Austin. He began his career in CPG with five years at Sara Lee and two years at General Mills in a variety of sales and marketing roles. Westgate holds a bachelor’s in business from Indiana (’01) and an MBA from
UT McCombs (’09).
Tat Whitley graduated from the MSM program in 2020 and currently serves as the financial analyst for H-E-B’s own brand business segment, Meal Simple, in the Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) division.
Before becoming a full-time Longhorn, he spent time at Sprinklr, an enterprise SaaS company, and was a high school health teacher and football/baseball coach in Austin, TX. He graduated from Rhodes College in 2016 with a BA in history.
Vice President, Consumer Insights & Marketing Analytics
Whole Foods Market
John Wright is Vice President of Consumer Insights & Marketing Analytics for Whole Foods Market, building out these new-to-the-organization capabilities from scratch. His teams are responsible for shopper research, customer segmentation efforts, the customer satisfaction program, customer analytics, media/marketing performance, and supporting a variety of Amazon integration efforts.
Prior to Whole Foods, he held a variety of Brand Management and Insights positions at Safeway, Quaker Oats, and Clorox. In addition, he spent a number of years leading marketing/product development efforts for small natural foods brands such as Thai Kitchen, Annie’s, Fantastic Foods, and Niman Ranch.
He has a BS in Economics from Texas A&M University and an MBA from UC-Berkeley. In addition to serving on the MSM Advisory Council, he also serves on the Retail Advisory Board. In his spare time, he and his partner struggle to stay one step ahead of their tween twins efforts to crack our parental control settings.