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News & Blogs: 5 Questions

5 Questions with Kelly Straub

Tuesday, June 5, 2012  
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Senior Vice President, Business Development
Acosta Sales & Marketing

"Don’t underestimate what you are capable of.”

Kelly Straub, senior vice president of business development for Acosta Sales & Marketing, serves as a close strategic adviser to CEO Robert Hill. She is a founding member of NEW Carolinas and serves on the region’s sponsorship committee. Straub joined Acosta in 2002 as a business manager in the Charlotte market and was named director of grocery/HBC for the Food Lion team in 2006. She was promoted to vice president in 2007. Two years later, Straub accepted her current role in Acosta’s corporate office, where she is responsible for working with current and prospective clients on opportunities to outsource sales, marketing or retail activities to the company. She has worked with companies such as Starbucks, Frito-Lay, Sun Products, Sara Lee and others.

What advice has served you well, as you have advanced your career?

Don’t underestimate what you’re capable of. Make sure you project confidence and instill confidence in those around you, because others likely believe you are capable of far more than you believe you are capable of doing. And remember, the people you’re surrounded by don’t necessarily have all the answers, either. I also remember this very recent advice: When you walk in the boardroom, act like you belong there. Don’t go sit against the wall but take a seat at the table and be an equal.

What networking tips would you give young professional women in the cpg/retail industry?

Don’t be afraid to ask for mentorship or sponsorship. Get over your fear of asking for help and reach out to people you look up to. Ask them to guide you and teach you. I also have learned a lot from reading books, and I recommend asking successful people what books have been helpful to them. Books that have landed on my list include Fawn Germer’s The NEW Woman Rules, Mary Davis Holt’s Break Your Own Rules and The Last Lecture, which talks about the importance of working hard and enjoying life.

How can women best position themselves to be noticed and valued when it comes to promotions and other career opportunities?

Ask for it! Identify specific opportunities that you want and let the right people know about it. You may need to ask your boss about what you need to do to get there or ask your mentor to help you reach your goal. But the first step is to ask yourself, "What can I learn that’s above and beyond my day-to-day job that will position me for the next role?” and then reach out to make it happen. One great way to increase your visibility is to raise your hand and take a leadership role on a special project or to offer to lead a cross-functional team.

What have been some of your most memorable experiences as a NEW member?

I was so proud to be part of the founding board of NEW Carolinas and to help shape and grow that organization. I’ve also enjoyed being able to attend the national NEW conferences, where I was surrounded by great women that I can relate to, be inspired by and learn so much from.

How have you approached work/life balance as your career has progressed?

I admit I am no poster child for balance, but I certainly try. For years I dedicated myself to being the best possible employee/wife/mother that I could be and consequently quit all activities that hindered me from being focused on work or family. But last year I took up tennis and it fulfilled everything that I was missing: exercise, being outdoors and spending time with friends outside of work. Aside from that, I try to plan special time with my kids and my family. On the work side, I believe if you surround yourself with good people, you can be out of the office – for work or for pleasure – and trust that things will get done and keep moving to your satisfaction. This trust enables freedom.

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