Marathon Petroleum turns to Marietta College students for advice

Fifth Street Consultants with Marathon employees

Marathon Petroleum Corporation is a well-established brand in Ohio and beyond, but the Marketing organization recently turned to a team of Marietta College students to provide a fresh perspective on attracting new talent to the Findlay-based company.

The company’s goal is to get noticed by students in a variety of business fields such as marketing, accounting and finance along with the traditional disciplines of engineering.

Tammi Milner Weigand ’90 is the Marketing Coordinating Staff Manager at Marathon. An Accounting major, she first interviewed with Marathon on campus, but it was a follow-up visit to the corporate headquarters that convinced her Marathon was the place she wanted to be. She’s still there more than 28 years later.

Her story isn’t unique to Marathon, where the culture centers on nurturing employees and developing their different professional interests. The student-led team at Marietta College’s Fifth Street Consulting concluded that’s the message potential recruits need to hear.

“At first, I looked at the company as one that is kind of old or stagnant,” said Melvin Shuler ’19 (Columbus, Ohio), project development director for the Marathon project, and a senior Marketing major at Marietta College. “They didn’t seem to be making innovative changes that you could see online. As time went on, I learned they were doing great things and realized we had a great opportunity to tell others what they are doing.”

The diverse group of students representing a variety of majors went to work to learn all they could about Marathon. They attended a career fair, conducted national surveys and campus focus groups and interviewed current Marathon employees about their experiences. The result is a comprehensive strategic plan for a campaign incorporating print and digital materials, a social media presence and improvements to the company’s web site in a variety of areas.

Geared toward students looking for internships and possible employment, the campaign encourages students to see Marathon as more than any single job, but rather the place to build a long-term career. It goes a step further by encouraging the company to spearhead volunteer activities with young people, sponsoring community events and reaching down into high schools to begin relationships.

Shuler said working with Marathon was a bit intimidating at first.

“We could see what they needed to do better, but we are just college students,” he said. A visit to corporate headquarters helped solidify the relationship and the students learned the company respected their opinions. “That’s when the intimidation factor went away.”

Weigand sought the talents of Fifth Street after learning about the program while attending a Marietta College leadership conference. She said the experience was positive for the students and the company.

“We were really impressed with the students,” she said. “They conveyed they work with a lot of companies that don’t have the culture prospective employees seek, but we do. Simply put, they told us we need to do a better job of 'selling' it.”

As a result of the students’ work, the Marketing organization continues to reach out to other departments within the company such as corporate affairs and human resources to share the students’ ideas.

Weigand said she wouldn’t hesitate to use Fifth Street Consulting again. The Marathon project is a strong illustration of what 5th Street Consulting is about, bringing students from a variety of disciplines together to achieve results.

“Research is at the heart of what we do and there is a lot of rigor to our methods,” said Dr. Alane Sanders, Professor of Communication and faculty mentor for the group. “(Marathon) expected a lot from our team. They asked good questions, they were open to suggestions and they were good listeners.

“They already knew areas that needed improvement,” Sanders said. “Our research can help their continued push for change.”