I know you’re just getting back from a trip and love to travel. What’s your favorite place you’ve been? In my most recent trip, Luxembourg was main reason was there, but in the beginning of the week I visited Paris and Lisbon. The place I could go over and over because I’m just fascinated would be the Scandinavian countries. I love Sweden and Oslo and I’m hooked on the Fjords. I have returned to Stockholm and Copenhagen. I appreciate the people and the culture; it’s clean and refreshing and welcoming. It’s my absolute favorite place, hands down.
What are some of your other passions or favorite things besides travel? Something that takes up a lot of time after relocating is working in animal shelters and working with rescue dogs. It started out as a way to meet new people in a new city, but now I’m at adoption events at least once a week. I volunteer at events, educating children on interacting with rescue dogs and I’ve helped to plan a few fundraisers. My passion has volunteering has developed and I now volunteer at food banks or hospitals in Philadelphia. I am also a big kayaker. Living on the Delaware, river I try to get my boat on the water as often as possible. It’s a good way to unwind after work or a lot of travel.
If you were describing the Satellite Trainee program to a friend who was considering applying, what would you tell them? I would start off with saying it’s a phenomenal opportunity to learn a lot about the industry as a whole by learning ways of working, gaining new skills, pushing your limits, and realizing what you’re capable of. It gives a 360 degree view of world of marketing and promotions. You get your feet wet in different arms of promotions from the client you start on then shift gears and perspectives with a new client. You learn to adapt, find similarities and differences. That said, it is not an easy thing to do. You are pushed to limit with time, energy. and flexibility. Knowing up front and preparing for how fast paced the transition is will be critical to be successful.
Working in Cincinnati and in a Satellite office can bring different experiences. Could you share the top 3 benefits of working in Cincinnati and the top 3 of working in a satellite office? Working in Cincy, the first thing that comes to mind is how much more connected to company you feel. At headquarters, you are first to know about announcements, training is available on site, and you have easier access to resources (IT, industry training, lunch and learns, etc.). You are surrounded and immersed in pep as a company and it is easier to be involved in employee resource groups (ERGs), community service, and wellness activities. You build a good understanding of the company and our value proposition.
In satellite offices, you are immersed in the client. You get to understand the brands that you’re working on to a depth you don’t typically see in Cincinnati. You see the parts of a program that you don’t handle that contribute to the execution. Sitting onsite, if a client has a question, they trust us and will just walk over. Having face time is really, really nice. You feel more connected to the client as a whole and are able to go to big meetings. Recently the VP that oversees the business we work with conducted a town hall. She recognized the top five dollar driving programs. I personally had a hand in 3 of the 5 programs.
You mentioned the other day that you have been joining the Association for Coupon Professionals (ACP) ecommerce committee meetings, can you tell me more about that? Ecommerce is really interesting across marketing industry as a whole because it’s relatively new. From a couponing standpoint, we know we have to master and engage with ecommerce. ACP is looked to as the experts with best practices related to coupons. With ecommerce there aren’t even consistent practices to develop best practices from. The committee consists of coupon aggregators, manufacturers, retailers, and suppliers who interact with coupons, like us. We discuss what we are experiencing, what works and what doesn’t. It is like a giant brainstorm, a chance to hear from different perspectives. We are writing white papers and compiling industry standards. Hearing from a company, like Inmar, on how they process coupons helps manufactures to structure their coupons to avoid potential roadblocks that are unique to ecommerce. I’m interested to see where it goes. ACP is the expert in so many areas and it will be good to hold that status as we are moving into ecommerce. This is just the starting point.
You also recently attended the Path to Purchase (P2P) conference, what was your biggest takeaway? The first day was ecommerce symposium. It was the biggest 9 hour crash course in anything everything in ecommerce. I have a whole notebook of takeaways from that day! The next day I attended two keynotes and walked the show floor where vendors showcase capabilities and innovations that were new to the market. I was able to see shopper marketing as a whole and dive into ecommerce. My biggest takeaway that can apply to both – how much technology and innovation is out there. Everything is moving at such a fast pace and it is important to keep up. However, with so much innovation accessible, it is so important to understand your brand and consumer to find what is best for you. Don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole just because it’s new and shiny. Optimize technology to work for you. You need data to understand your brand and to marry that with the emotional side of marketing. The better you know yourself, the more this technology is going to propel brands forward at an amazingly fast rate. Talking to people who were there last year and two years ago – everything is new. What was an inkling of an idea in past is now a full blown capability and 8 vendors who can do it. You can’t just throw things at the wall to see what sticks. It has to be done right.
What have you gained from participating in industry organizations? The biggest thing is that it solidifies that I’m in the right field. I graduated from college on a Saturday and started at pep on Monday, so this is the place I first dipped toes into the real world. Learning about everything and how vast of a world marketing is confirms I’m in the right place. It is interesting and dynamic and motivating to me. Creativity is involved, but creativity has to be married to process and data. Coupon or shopper marketing innovations are always new and interesting. You always going to keep growing. Claire Wasserman has a great quote saying ‘follow your curiosity, not your passion’ which really resonates with me when I reflect on what I’ve learned through all of the opportunities I’ve had a chance to participate in. There’s always so much to learn, a million different ways to move forward, always something that seems to pique my curiosity.
At our July company-wide meetings, you were able to present to the company on the topic of resilience. How has being resilient propelled you forward? Resiliency and grit are things that can be learned, and I hadn’t realized how much I was learning until I put myself into situations where had to use resiliency and grit, then looked back at my progress. I think a lot of my resiliency started with my StrengthsFinder strengths of responsibility and learner, which helped me to keep moving forward and expanding my outlook. After each challenge I bounced back, learned, and eventually become expert in the room. After seeing how far I had come, I realized how much I was capable of, and that realization gave me the confidence to raise hand to take action towards goals such as attending P2P and take on special projects with my client manager. It has help to push out of my comfort zone. I was able to make changes and make moves to push myself past where I thought I could be.
Finish this sentence, “If it were two years from now, success would look like…” Success for me would be having a balanced life in which I’m continuously learning. While it’s nice to feel comfortable and settle into a groove, I think my version of comfortable is a balance of continuing to do the things I love while always be perusing something new and different. In 2 years I want to keep up with the things I’ve learned I do have a passion for – to still be traveling, to be involved in my community, and to continue to be interested in the work I do both in and out of the office. At the same time, I think I need to balance that familiarity with a constant opportunity for newness. I always want to be able to be in a position where I can walk through new doors to learn more about things that are interesting to me. I never want to plateau and settle in. As long as I am still in a place where I can learn, grow, try new things, and meet new people while still holding onto what I’ve learned is important to me, I’ll consider my life a successful balance.
Kristie Schoonover, SHRM-CP