Careers: Thinking outside the agency box

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Since receiving his graduate degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University in 1997, Charles Cozzani has rejected agency life in favor of client-side and consultant positions, working for companies that he believes see as much value in integration and customer relationship marketing as he does.

"I didn't have to fight with my own employers about why I wasn't pushing advertising as the solution of all problems," he said, adding that many of his fellow grads also were passing on agency jobs.

As a consultant at Peppers & Rogers, Chicago, which he joined in 2000 after a stint as an internal CRM consultant at 3M Corp., Mr. Cozzani, 36, believes his IMC training prepared him to be an objective business partner for marketers.

"The best thing about the IMC program is that it was at a strategic level. We would dive into specific areas like data analytics and customer insight, but only to the extent that we could understand what we would be requesting from other people in the future," he said.

"I work side-by-side with MBAs, and I think what I lack in financial analysis I bring in customer relationship management and change management," he added.

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