5 Questions with Briana Lee
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Regional Sales Analyst
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?
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!