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Northwestern Professor Rick Kolsky Offers Students Invaluable Insight in Brand Management



By John Hounihan

Conversation. Insight. Problem Solving.

Any MSLCE student will tell you that these are some of Professor Rick Kolsky’s tools for marketing strategy. A bonafide player in the marketing consultation world, his stories of Smucker’s and Discovery Kids bring with them not only the theory of effective brand management and marketing, but the experience of someone who has been in the room for big marketing decisions.

What Rick’s resume and stories can’t make clear, however, is his own engagement. Each and every lecture, discussion comment, or email from Rick conveys his student orientation. He asks the right questions. He pushes the right buttons. It is clear from day one of his course that he is focused on each and every student that sits in his class. He is the quintessential example of what makes a MSLCE professor great – they come with their own expertise to help us manage in the arts.

Discomfort is imperative in Rick’s course. From the beginning, he forces students out of their comfort zone. Why? Because asking the right questions is the only way to find the right answers. From mystery shopping at the Art Institute, to rebuilding the market strategy for an arts organization of our choice, there was never a moment where Rick’s class felt ordinary.

Along with the discomfort, however, comes a level of critical thinking that is invaluable to beginning a career as a leader in the arts. Each question Rick asks in class has many answers, but don’t think for once that he will hand it to you. He will let you be wrong. He will make you think it through. He will create a dialogue with the students around you to make the learning about experience and conversation before it’s about simply content. (Although his lectures are nothing to scoff at as well.)

All in all, the spring core class in marketing strategy is not only valuable and crucial to a career in the arts, but it is all the more valuable and crucial because Professor Rick Kolsky is at the helm.