People to Watch 2017: Kristin Secora
Title: Marketing Manager
Education: University of St. Thomas (bachelor’s, business); University of Minnesota (master’s, business administration and management, general)
Ten individuals represent the People to Watch Class of 2017. Nominated by their respective companies’ representatives in the Path to Purchase Institute’s League of Leaders, these rising stars are making a name for themselves by doing work for their brands that is worthy of attention.
Out of college, Kristin Secora started working at General Mills in a sales function, not yet convinced marketing was the path she wanted to take. But then she met Erin Mott (a marketing manager there at the time), learned about brand and P&L management, and realized that marketing was what she wanted to do in the long term. “She opened my eyes to the possibility of what was out there and taught me so much as well, both in terms of financials and analytics and also how to move fast and get things done quickly but still do any job very accurately,” Secora says of Mott.
While doing rotations in marketing, Secora started going to school part time to earn her MBA, a deliberate decision, she says, because she didn’t want to miss out on the experiences she could be getting in the workforce. Still in school, she transitioned to Polaris Industries, a manufacturer of snowmobiles and ATVs, in 2014. There she was charged with bringing the brand back to life. “All my work at General Mills and my education really helped me to be able to [pull] back the brand and start over again.”
Looking back, she admits to knowing very little about the powersports industry, but she jumped in and learned quickly. “I started going on hunting trips because I wanted to understand the consumer,” she says. She also went to rallies and races and learned about fly fishing and ice fishing.
From that experience she also learned something about herself. “Even if I end up in roles where I feel uncomfortable, I’ve been taught the skills along the way to have a framework to help me address that,” she says, noting that she will never lose sight of that. “That has been tremendously helpful because when we’re launching new items or working with new teams and partners, we just have to know how to navigate through it.”
As associate marketing manager working for PepsiCo’s Quaker, Secora leads the company’s programming with the Kroger and Dollar General teams. Seeking a shopper marketing role because she sees it as a function that’s somewhat centrally balanced in the matrix of navigating in all directions, she joined PepsiCo in early 2016. “It felt like a great way to come to understand how Pepsi operated and to learn our businesses within a functional area that I had some level of understanding,” she says.
Secora says she would like to continue to hone her skills in terms of helping build brands and businesses in a marketing capacity, connecting with sales teams to ensure better success from conception of an idea down to the program being in market. “I would like someone to say one day that I was a developer of people and a thought leader, and then a developer of brands. So many people have given me opportunities, time and have taught me, and I want to do that for others as well.”