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Elise Keeler

Elise Keeler

Customer Account Lead for Kroger

General Mills

In the span of four years, I moved from Cincinnati to Minneapolis to Tampa and back to Cincinnati — and each move has pushed my career forward.

In 2013, I was working with Mondelēz International in Cincinnati and relocated to the Twin Cities to spread my wings and learn another side of the business, moving from selling new items and shelf resets with a grocery retailer to selling incremental displays and calling on regional contacts for a mass merchant.

Due to a company reorganization in December 2015, my entire team was eliminated. I began reaching out to my network and searching for possible career opportunities. I found a position at General Mills and reached out to someone I met at a NEW Twin Cities event, Bliss Pierce. She told me about the culture, opportunity for advancement and the different business centers around the country. Bliss and everyone I spoke to who held similar roles at General Mills were passionate about their work. The company and the job seemed like a good fit for me. After going through the interview process, I accepted a job to work on the Publix business in Tampa.

Professionally, I knew a new role in a new city would be a way for me to cultivate new skills and develop my personal brand. Personally, my close friend passed away a month before I was downsized and the loss made me realize there’s no day but today. You must take risks — you never know what they could lead to.

I boarded a plane in Minneapolis in 10-degree weather and landed in Tampa in sunny, 70-degree weather. I thought, “Yes, my life’s going to be different.”

My year in Tampa was a great learning experience doing analytical work in category management. But when I had the opportunity to move back to Cincinnati, I jumped at the chance, though I had two concerns: The demands of calling on a national customer and getting back in a groove with all my friends and family.

But with each move, I grew — and so did my confidence. I discovered I could live on my own in a new city, take advantage of new experiences and adapt.

In every city I lived, I connected with NEW. It’s so empowering to go to a regional NEW event and create bonds with people who understand instantly what you do. We relocate so often in our industry, you never know when you’ll see NEW members you know in another city.

But it’s also important for me to have a foundation of friends outside of work — you got to let it all go sometimes! In Minneapolis, I used the Meetup app to find people in the Twin Cities who had similar interests as me. A group of 15 of us would meet to play Whirlyball, go out to eat and explore the city. I’m still friends with them and I always make sure to connect with them when I’m at General Mills HQ for training. You never know, I may end up moving back!