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Beyond Barbie

Tamara Gutverg shares insights from her internship experience at toymaker Mattel, planning for the next generation of dolls while being immersed in a cultural tidal wave.

Tamara Gutverg (MMM ‘24) found herself at the core of the Barbieverse this summer. 

 As the movie based on the famous doll swept the nation, Gutverg was interning at Mattel – the company that created Barbie in 1959 – helping the toy manufacturer cast its vision for the future. 

Gutverg is a student in Northwestern's MBA + MS Design Innovation (MMM) program — a dual-degree program between Northwestern Engineering and the Kellogg School of Management. She said the timing of her internship was perfect. Tamara Gutverg

 “It was a really fun company to be a part of, especially with everything happening with Barbie, just being at the center of a cultural moment,” she said. “It couldn’t have been a better time for me to be at Mattel.” 

Gutverg spent the summer working on a trio of Mattel’s doll brands –Enchantimals, Harry Potter, and Disney Princesses. Her job involved product marketing and strategy development, working on the toy lines that will be coming out in the next few years. 

She leaned heavily on her MMM education to find success. 

“I worked on a competitive analysis for the dolls category and an exciting white space innovation project,” she said. “This is where my MMM expertise really came in handy.“ 

"One of Mattel's values is innovation, and that's where the overlap is with MMM." 

Gutverg’s internship brought her in contact with many on the executive team of Mattel, which was founded in 1945 and is responsible for such brands as Hot Wheels, American Girl, and Fisher-Price. She and her fellow interns had conversations with the CEO, chief technology officer, and chief people officer, among others in the C-suite. 

Those talks gave Gutverg greater insight into how the company has grown and where it plans to go. 

“Everybody grew up playing with Barbie, Hot Wheels or with one of their many brands, and it's really fascinating to see how they have evolved and managed to remain relevant,” she said. “Witnessing the transformation that the company has gone through in the past five years and learning about the strategy moving forward, leaning into their intellectual property and those brands that we grew up loving, was eye-opening.” 

Perhaps more than anything else, Gutverg said her internship taught her the power of reinvention and the need to never get complacent. MMM instilled those lessons in her, and Mattel brought them to life. 

"This summer was a masterclass on how to grow and reinvent a brand so that it stays fresh and relevant 60 years into its history," she said. "You have to stay on top of trends and ahead of the curve in order to thrive in such a competitive marketplace."

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