Name: Allison

Vocation: Manager, National Sales & Channel Strategy at Bormioli Rocco

Location: New York, NY

1. What do you do now? I’m responsible for business development at Bormioli Rocco, an Italian glassware company…which means I get to do a little bit of everything. In my role, I focus on growing sales with major retailers (Macy’s, Williams-Sonoma, etc.), developing products for the US market, helping Buyers with their assortments & managing a team of sales reps to grow sales at independent stores nationwide.

a. How did you end up here?

All of my professionally ‘formative’ years were with Nestle. I started out in a leadership development program that involved 1-2 year rotations in sales-related positions across the US. Some positions were far better / worse than others but all did contribute to ensuring I was well rounded in my abilities (something I appreciate today). My favorite time at Nestle was when I was responsible for Nespresso’s launch in Target. The best part was determining how to maintain the brand’s cache within a mass retail environment. The launch was a total success. What I especially love about sales, is that you have PHYSICAL proof of your work – product in store, beautiful displays & sales growth. For me, that has been something that I find extremely rewarding.

b.  Any pit stops along the way and did those stops help you get to the career and woman you are now?

I’d say just one which was enlightening but not especially enjoyable.

Last year, I left Nespresso to work at a start-up consulting firm. They specialized in consumer research for major brands like General Mills, Kraft, Unilever, etc. About a month in, I began to realize I didn’t enjoy consulting. Even had I ignored the slow decline of my life outside work, I realized how much of my motivation came from owning projects. In consulting, I was frustrated by the feeling that nothing we did was really going to matter in many of the companies and, even if it did, I wouldn’t be around to see it through. I stayed at the company less than a year and learned a ton about my priorities…

  • I must have work-life balance to be truly committed & happy at work
  • I need to be a decision-maker. I would rather play no part in the research and instead be responsible for enacting the findings.
  • Airline status is not worth the hours of travel it takes to achieve it.

2. What are your current gaps, barriers, facilitators or motivators? Any of those in particular that helped you along the way?

Two people in my life have given me great advice…

The first (and a bit more cliché) is my father. He would always tell my sister & me “do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”. I would say he only had the luxury of following his own advice late in life but, once achieved, was [almost sickeningly] happy with his day-to-day. J

The second came from my uncle who is more successful than I will ever hope to become…as I graduated college at the height of the recession (2009), I was deciding between two offers (1) at an ad agency in NYC and (2) the aforementioned program at Nestle which, I failed to mention, required me to move to rural Kansas for a year. He told me that it’s not about where you start but about where you can go once you’re there. Don’t think of the job you’re taking but of what doors may open once you prove yourself...hence, he strongly advised I take the Nestle job that had many opportunities beyond rural Kansas as long as I worked to stand-out.

3. What is your ideal state / dream state of being as a woman in your career and as a woman in this world?

My dream state would be a world where you know all the women in your life – family, friends, and acquaintances – are all there to support you 100%. It breaks my heart to hear us sometimes be overly critical of each other or feel like we must compete. We’re often fighting many of the same battles that would be much easier to win if we would work together.

a.  How will you get there?

I actively work to offer help, advice & mentorship to the young women I work alongside. Just this week, I had drinks with two ladies that are coming to impasses in their careers. It’s not that I have all the answers – god no – but that I would have loved to have had an older friend to bounce ideas & dreams off of when I was 22, 23, 24 & trying to figure it all out.

 

4. What common misconceptions do you find about your field, your life and about women in general?

I hate this idea that women need to be different than our natural selves in order to ‘succeed in the workplace’. I don’t lean-in, I don’t act like a man, I don’t do whatever the latest book is recommending I do in order to succeed. I am simply myself. I do great work & I am unapologetic about my successes. The only thing required here is confidence in yourself and your ideas – I realize easier said than done but, for me, confidence is something that I have worked to build and is a constant work in progress.

 

5. Any advice or tips and tricks you want to give to a younger you?

Prioritize interests & hobbies outside of work and your relationship. I find it important that I build escapes beyond my 9-5 (hours I stick to) and my husband. Currently, this involves playing volleyball & learning Spanish on weeknights. Last year, it was interior design class. These ‘extracurriculars’ will help you make friends with interesting people (who have similar drive), keep you stimulated, & give you important time to escape from anything that may be stressing you out.

BONUS: What should lead your life: passion or pragmatism?

Passion, but it cannot be about work alone. I am an extremely passionate person but who’s to say that your job must be your passion? I’m extremely happy growing a fun, Italian business in my daily life and then exploring a growing number of passions outside of work. If I did one of these passions every day, in order to survive, it would immediately become work. I cannot separate the two. Once I’m paid for it, I then have to do it & I no longer enjoy it as much.

BONUS BONUS: What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of keeping my individuality and independence as I’ve matured. It is so easy (and sometimes expected of an adult woman) to be sucked into work, relationships, family, and lose oneself. I greatly enjoy my work but it does not define me. I love my husband immensely but we are perfect complements and not ‘one being’. In everything I do, I hope to always keep this ‘Allie-focus’ that I find so important while still building deep, lasting relationships with those around me.
 

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