Each semester, undergraduate students at UIC Business connect with senior leaders from local, national, and international companies in Management 495 (Competitive Strategy). For the course, Clinical Associate Professor Michael Miller brings top business leaders to UIC Business for the Executives in the Classroom series. As part of the Fall 2017 speaker lineup, Ulta Beauty CEO, Mary Dillon ‘83, UIC Business alumna, joined the Management 495 class.
Each Executives in the Classroom session begins with a student- led group analysis of the speaker’s company. A few weeks back, Dillon, and a packed lecture hall, listened attentively as the group of seven students detailed Ulta Beauty’s mission, values, and products, and performed SWOT and market analysis of the company.
“Our team was in agreement that we needed to do extensive research on Ulta because we wanted to do the company justice,” Pamela Gozon, a UIC Business senior accounting major, said. Despite the pressure of delivering the material in front of the company’s CEO, the substance and presentation quality of the students’ work was top-notch.
Marla Wisuri, a senior marketing major, explained, “Although it was a large audience, I did not feel too nervous presenting because our team was well rehearsed. We did a run through with Professor Miller, practiced as a team, and on our own.” This thorough preparation paid off; when it was Dillon’s turn to speak, she praised the students’ work and skipped through a number of slides in her deck that included material the group had already covered.
“To be honest with you, these guys did a fantastic recap of my company and it would be redundant if I did too much of it,” Dillon said. This left Dillon significant time to address the recommendations made by the students for Ulta Beauty directly, including expansion of Ulta Beauty’s e-commerce and international divisions. Dillon also discussed her background and the hard work she put in while at UIC.
“When I was [at UIC] I was waitressing, I had student loans, I worked at the language lab, I worked at a bank as a teller, and at the same time I was getting a degree,” Dillon stated. In addition to expanding on the company’s evolving strategy, Dillon suggested that willingness to work hard and ambition are key for students hoping to one day reach senior leadership positions.
Yasmeen Ewaida, a senior Information and Decision Sciences (IDS) major, reflected on Dillon’s visit, “It is valuable to have someone like Mary Dillon speak in class, because she got to where she is based on hard work and her attitude. She was a first-generation student, like myself and many others, and seeing how far we can grow if we have the right mindset is extremely motivating to continue to achieve great heights.”