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News & Blogs: 5 Questions

5 Questions with Briana Lee

Tuesday, December 13, 2011  
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Regional Sales Analyst
Kraft Foods

"Through networking at NEW events, I had a job upon graduation in 2009.”

Briana Lee has worked for Kraft Foods for more than two years. She began her career as a sales associate, was promoted to sales representative and now serves as the regional sales analyst for the Charlotte, N.C. region. Lee is a member of the NEW Carolinas mentoring and social media committees and assists with Kraft Food’s Women’s Sales Council and Leadership Conference. In 2009, Lee graduated cum laude with a bachelor of science degree in marketing from University of Maryland, College Park. A marketing internship at McCormick & Co. in Baltimore introduced her to the food industry. As a sales representative in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C., market, she was active with NEW Mid-Atlantic’s college outreach and membership efforts.

Part of the Network of Executive Women’s mission is to attract young talent to the consumer products and retail industry. What role has NEW played in your own professional development?

I came across Network of Executive Women as an undergrad at University of Maryland, College Park. I was very active in extracurricular groups that related to my field of study. I had interned for McCormick & Co., which gave me my first taste of the food industry. When I came across a women’s organization in the cpg industry, I wanted to get involved. I discovered the Network offered scholarships to those who wanted to pursue a career in cpg/retail. In 2008, my junior year of college, I was one of seven national scholarship recipients. This not only included a very generous monetary reward, but three years of paid membership and waived registration fees. That year, NEW Mid-Atlantic was formed. When I attended the inaugural event in May 2008, it was inspiring to see so many professionals and potential mentors! Everyone was friendly and so willing to help. Through networking at NEW events, I had a job upon graduation in 2009.

How did NEW help you find a job?

In addition to contacting every person I had met at previous NEW events, I started cold emailing -- not cold calling, but cold emailing -- members in the database from the board of directors to senior HR [leaders]. I actually got a 25-percent response rate, from "We’re not hiring” to "Check our website” to "I’ll pass your along your resume.” But it was a member of the NEW Board who told me she had passed along my resume to two people and that if I didn’t hear back from them in a week to let her know. That woman was Regenia Stein, a corporate vice president at Kraft Foods. She was the catalyst of my career at Kraft and has been the best mentor I could ever hope for. She is someone who I aspire to be like. It is because of NEW that I have the honor of knowing such a woman.

What has your involvement in NEW MidAtlantic meant to you?

At the beginning of this year, I was able to join the NEW MidAtlantic steering committee. NEW has been so valuable to me; I wanted to get involved and give back. I joined the college outreach committee because I know firsthand the value NEW provides to young professionals who want to excel. It was very exciting when my roommate, who graduated last May, told me she was hired by Target. Immediately, I pitched her on NEW and she attended our May mixer. Suddenly, I realized I became a mentor to someone else.

What are your thoughts on gender discrimination in the consumer products and retail industry?

The industry is still male-dominated. But I was asked once if I had ever faced discrimination in school or the workplace. After pausing to think for a moment, I realized the answer was "No.” As part of Generation Y, I have been very fortunate to not have encountered the harsh racial or gender discrimination that my parents and others may have faced. I thank NEW members and others like them for paving the way for my generation to have opportunities to be successful in the industry.

What are your short-term and long-term professional goals?

In the next few years, I hope to move around the country and company gaining experience through various roles. From my recent move to Charlotte, N.C., I realized the importance of gaining exposure to different regions. I also want to mentor young professionals beginning their career. I’m very fortunate to have mentors with diverse backgrounds, experiences and advice. I know firsthand the difference a mentor can make.  My long-term goal is to make it to corporate. I would love to end up in a hybrid sales/marketing position. At some point, I plan to earn my MBA. Throughout it all, I strive to maintain a good work/life balance. Life’s too short not to enjoy it!

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