April 30, 2014
Alison Miller was a two-time letterwinner (1999-2000) for the Wolverines after transferring to Michigan from Bowling Green. She earned Academic All-Big Ten honors in 2000 and helped Michigan secure its third NCAA bid in program history during her final season in Ann Arbor. Miller appeared in 60 games with 55 starts over her two-year career and averaged 6.9 points on 48.2 percent shooting to go with 5.8 rebounds in 23.9 minutes per game.
After graduating from Michigan, Miller worked for General Mills, received an MBA from Harvard University, and was recently named the senior director of marketing for the Chicago Cubs. She visited with the 2013-14 Wolverines during their trip to Northwestern this past season, showing them the impact of having a Michigan degree.
Q. Why did you choose Michigan?
A. I am originally from Grand Haven, Mich., and my family has a long tradition of Michigan graduates, starting with my grandfather in the 1940s. I knew I wanted to play college basketball, but a lot of people told me I wasn't good enough for the Big Ten. That being said, Michigan was the school that I had my sights set on, as the combination of top-notch academics and athletics is pretty unique. I also knew that I would have opportunities once I graduated to pursue a great career.
Q. What did you study at Michigan?
A. I was accepted into the BBA program, and at the time it was one of the top undergraduate business programs in the country. I always had an interest in marketing, so that was my primary focus.
Q. What did you do after you graduated?
A. I moved to Minneapolis, Minn., and started working for General Mills. It was an amazing experience! As someone with an interest in consumer marketing, I was fortunate to work with some of the largest brands in the world, including Betty Crocker, Honey Nut Cheerios, Pillsbury, Chex and others. I was also selected for a General Mills leadership program that would pay for me to get my graduate degree, so I pursued my MBA at Harvard University. After finishing the program, I returned to General Mills and stayed on for another six years until I was approached by the Chicago Cubs to take the senior director of marketing position in 2012.
Q. How has the transition to Major League Baseball been?
A. It is a very dynamic and fun environment. I get to spend time with 81 "focus groups" per season, so the instant feedback from fans is a little different than when I was at General Mills. I enjoy walking through the stands on game days and engaging with fans to hear about what they have to say about their Wrigley Field experience.
Q. What do you do on a daily basis?
A. A lot! No day is the same. I am in meetings regularly to discuss marketing, branding, fan research, advertising, broadcasting and game entertainment. We actually recently introduced a mascot named Clark. The Cubs used to have a live bear cub that would come to games in the 1910s, but as you can imagine, that wasn't exactly sustainable. Since then, nothing really existed. Clark gives us an opportunity to not only have a mascot on game days, but he is very active in the community. In a sport where your players are traveling practically every other day, it is difficult to get them out interacting with fans, but Clark allows us to do this pretty regularly, and the kids love him!
Q. What are some of the lessons that you were able to learn at Michigan as a student-athlete that have helped you become so successful professionally?
A. I was fortunate to attend two great universities, but there are so many things that I learned as a part of the women's basketball team that you can't learn in a classroom -- everything from teamwork, time management, communication, and the ability to handle adversity. One of the biggest skills I learned from constantly having to prove myself was mental toughness. The ups and downs of college athletics provide you with some great real-world scenarios before you even graduate.
The recently created Office of Alumni Engagement strives to foster a community, recognize the holistic student-athlete and honor the great Michigan Athletics history. This alumni spotlight illustrates the impact that our alumni are having around the world and how they stay engaged with Michigan.