Managing success: one category and student at a time

Contact: Angela DeYoung

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University's Haworth College pf Business is now offering a category management training and certification program for students and professionals in the consumer packaged goods industry. WMU food marketing faculty and industry experts have designed this unique University-based certification to complement the food marketing curriculum offered in the major, while also providing a cost-effective and robust certification for professionals in the food industry. 

“We are pumped about bringing this innovative University-based program to partners in the food industry, as well as to other universities with food marketing-focused programs,” says Dr. Russell Zwanka, associate professor of marketing and director of the food and consumer package goods program. “The certification confirms and expands on students’ understanding of current category management theory and marketing principles, while also enhancing knowledge and skills for food industry professionals looking to advance in category management.”

The professional category management certification program aids students in their career search and provides an opportunity to stand out when speaking with potential employers.

“The certification stands out so much on my resume and sets me apart from other applicants with similar education and experience levels. Employers have shown interest because category management is such a complex job, so having a certification showing my fundamental understanding differentiates me from my peers,” says Emma Kite, vice president of student engagement for the Food Marketing Association.

This unique University-based certification program is available to students that enroll in the category management course with Zwanka. Students are assigned weekly modules containing category management content. Materials also include pre-quizzes to assess previous knowledge, videos created and narrated by Zwanka to introduce topics and terminology, as well as short final quizzes to test students’ knowledge of the information after completing modules. Once the required work is completed, students can take the certification exam, which includes the most imperative concepts from each module.

Kite has many positive things to say about the certification process.

“My classmates and I were lucky enough to have the certification embedded in our course.  I was able to learn how to apply the key strategies of category management before graduation, making me even more marketable,” she says.

This WMU Haworth program is open to all food marketing students who wish to further their knowledge in category management. Haley Dunlop, a senior who has completed her certification says, “For students just starting out with the certification process, my advice would be to try not to get overwhelmed at the list of modules and just to take the process week by week.  Write important information down and try to fully understand the concepts before completing quizzes and don’t rush through. It will without a doubt be useful in your career.”

Food and consumer package goods marketing senior, Austin Magers, agrees with Dunlop and notes some tips for new students in the certification program.

“The process was straightforward and easy to work with, providing a professional skill that companies in the industry are looking for. Staying on top of the modules and taking good notes will help you remember and understand concepts for the certification test,” says Austin.

Learn more about the Category Management Certification.

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