Bio & Background
I started my marketing career back in high school, when I started writing and designing a customer newsletter for my family’s business, Deslaurier’s Bakery & Restaurant. It was a hit with customers, with people looking forward to the next issue of “The Baker’s Oven.” At the same time, I started to write copy for radio and newspaper ads. I enjoyed it so much, I wanted to do more of it – however, even from the start, it was a struggle between budget and creativity!
Coming out of high school, I was fortunate to attend Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) for graphic design, but dropped out after about six weeks. It was just too weird! I thought I would attend the Culinary Institute of America, but my parents wisely said that they didn’t want to pay for me to to go the most specialized, most expensive schools in the country until I decided what I wanted to do. I ended up taking a tour of Johnson & Wales University as a culinary student but applied and started off as a hospitality management student. However, I quickly realized that I had spent my entire childhood working nights and weekends and didn’t want to spend the rest of my life doing that.
A turning point came when speaking with a professor about my dilemma, at which point he recommended advertising, the rationale being that RISD was too artsy for me, but I am creative and looking for a more standard career. I ended up getting my Associates degree in Advertising & Public Relations, and then continued for my Bachelors degree in Marketing. I thought about transferring to a larger school better known for its marketing program, but I was in a great place at Johnson & Wales: I co-founded the Collegiate Honors Society, was in the Honors Program, co-founded a literary magazine called “Free Parking,” had become editor of the bi-weekly school newspaper, went to the 1996 Democratic National Convention as part of a program with The Washington Center, and represented the school at several conferences, including The Center for the Study of the Presidency, regional and national honors conferences and the Direct Marketing Association junior seminar. I went on to become the first student to graduate from Johnson & Wales University with the “Honors” designation, culminating in a research paper on the impact of downloading on music purchasing behavior, research which I presented at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research.
During the summer between my sophomore and junior year, I interned at Donnelly & Duncan advertising, a mid-sized business-t0-business ad agency, learning all aspects of the agency world. The relationship there was mutually beneficial and I found myself with a nearly full-time job in the ad agency world during my junior year of college, experience which has served me well ever since – I am a better client because I’ve been on the receiving end of a bad client.
Another critical point for me was joining the American Marketing Association. I began with the chapter on campus, but found out about an opportunity with the Boston chapter. They were looking for a student to build their first stand-alone web site, and I had taught myself how to program HTML in order to get out of a computer basics class the year before. I built the web site, back in the day when a menu box changing colors when moused over were a big deal and you had to check your site in both Netscape and Internet Explorer. From there, I stayed active with the Boston AMA for over ten years, serving as Vice President of Online Communications, President-Elect, President, and Past-President/Advisor.
The networking opportunities through the AMA landed me a number of free lance web design jobs, including assisting local musicians and artists promote themselves. One of the free lance jobs ended with a full-time marketing job at a small engineering firm called Mech-Chem Associates. There I developed a new logo, new marketing materials, a direct mail program, gained industry PR placements and created two web sites.
At this point, I had enough of the B2B world and wanted to see my marketing efforts in the store and in people’s homes. I joined Dean Foods at their Franklin, MA offices, being quite possibly the last marketing person in the United States to get a job by way of a newspaper classified ad (it was 2001 after all). After a few months in a trade marketing role working between marketing and sales, I moved into a traditional consumer marketing role and stayed there for a little over three years. I loved the work, and it provided me with a strong foundations of the basics: coupons, FSIs, press checks, budget management, POP development, package design, TV and radio production, marketing strategy development, marketing research, new product introductions, cause-related marketing and event marketing.
Feeling it was time for a change, I decided to join an entrepreneurial venture in Providence, RI called The Ocean Group. They had an innovative digital thermometer designed by moms and sold under the TIMEX brand through a licensing deal. It was a fascinating business model – an incubator type company but with the parent company owning all the businesses, with the goal of having different companies at different stages of growth. I viewed it as an opportunity to learn more about various aspects of a business. Unfortunately, three months into it, the entrepreneur behind the company was killed in a plane crash, and was let go in the layoffs.
I “boomeranged” back to Dean Foods as a Marketing Manager, taking on a wider range of responsibilities, leading the marketing efforts of eight regional dairy brands spread across three business units. Budget management was a pain. However, I got to work very closely with sales and general management, and started to get involved with some national initiatives, as the region I worked in was the testing ground for many things that Dean Foods took national.
However, good things often come to end, and I had milked (sorry) the dairy industry for all it was worth. A fortuitous call from a headhunter opened the door at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. I joined as Product Marketing Manager, leading our “at home” product business. K-Cup pods had just launched into grocery and were exploding in growth, so I found myself steering the product strategy and development for the fastest growing segment of one of the fastest growing companies in the world. During this time, I also led the initiative to launch Green Mountain Naturals Hot Apple Cider, a new-to-the-world product using innovative “fruit brew” technology.
A year into my time at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, I was asked to take on leadership of the Green Mountain Coffee brand. It was a critical time for the brand, as it was going from a strong regional brand to a national coffee brand competing with the likes of Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and Folgers. I could not have asked for a more exciting and rewarding time to become a brand manager – I had the opportunity to lead the way with our first national marketing planning, first national media plan, doing our first celebrity partnership, introducing lots of exciting new products and driving sales of Fair Trade Certified coffee along the way.
My most recent position at what is now known as “Keurig Green Mountain” had me leading the business of our non-coffee business: working with dozens of brands in the tea, cocoa and fruit categories, helping to drive incremental consumption of these products in K-cup. This was mainly focused the marketing and sales strategy for these products, working very closely with the sales team, category management, operations and finance to ensure the success of the product line.
Personally, I’m a passionate music fan, a foodie, a barbecue judge and pitmaster, and enjoy watching New England sports teams (especially Red Sox and Patriots). I also enjoy camping, kayaking, photography, board games, card games, jigsaw puzzles, writing Yelp! reviews, and love to travel to new places.
I do try to give back to society when possible – I served on the Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk Committee for several years and enjoy the opportunity to share experiences and ideas with college and high school students. I’ve spoken in classes at Boston University, Boston College, Rhode Island School of Design, Stonehill College, Emerson College, Clark University, Johnson & Wales, and Champlain College.