From delivering Pep’s first promotion to leading Pep’s largest global account, Adrienne Stewart has been a fundamental figure for Pep’s growth and success since the very beginning. Adrienne began her journey at Pep as one of the original seven employees. As her impact within the company expanded and her relationship with the clients grew, she was promoted to Account Director of the Procter & Gamble account overseeing all aspects of the business. Reflecting on the last twelve years, Adrienne provides insight into the journey she has taken from Pep’s inception to the present.
Background on Adrienne
To prepare for her future in the corporate world, Adrienne participated in the Future Business Leaders of America program and obtained her degree in Marketing and International Business from the University of Cincinnati. Adrienne had always known she wanted to be a businesswoman, but was not exactly certain how her career path would take shape. Her approach to future planning did not include a five or ten year plan, but rather a day-by-day mentality. She credits this to the entrepreneurial spirit that Pep adopted twelve years ago. The focus: to drive the business forward one day at a time by setting short-term goals and achieving them with hard work.
Adrienne was hired immediately upon graduation as a Promotion Coordinator, the equivalent of an Account Executive (AE) today. Having seen the position listed in the Cincinnati Enquirer, she applied in the midst of a furiously competitive job market. After approximately 30-40 interviews with various companies, she was invited to interview at Pep’s Michigan office. Receiving the offer on her five hour drive home, Adrienne was thrilled to accept the position.
In the beginning, Adrienne ran promotions for the P&G Beauty Care team. Her favorite promotion type was sampling. Getting the product into the consumer’s hand in order to drive trial was something that she became passionate about. The current technological landscape makes it difficult to imagine an Account Executive running promotions without PepConnect®, or generating Purchase Orders (PO) by hand, but when Adrienne started in 2004, PepConnect® was an item of the future, and POs were written by hand before being walked down to the client’s headquarters for creation.
In her early days with Pep, Adrienne’s reach extended far beyond just promotion execution. Her direct leader, Ben Seinen, was and still is a tremendous motivator in Adrienne’s career, always pushing her to take on new challenges. When the development of a proprietary project management system became a reality, Ben encouraged Adrienne to reach out of her comfort zone and help lead the implementation of PepConnect®. With Adrienne’s guidance, the PepConnect® software has become one of the fundamental aspects of Pep.
Adrienne’s work ethic and positive attitude were quickly recognized by Pep’s management and she was promoted to a leadership role just two years after joining. Adrienne reflects on this promotion by recognizing it was both an honor and an obstacle; an honor to be trusted with greater responsibilities so quickly and an obstacle as she felt unprepared for leadership being so new to the corporate world. But, Pep was growing rapidly and this required the team to step-up wherever there was a need.
Adrienne credits her success as a leader to her quality support system. She feels that growing as a leader is never a process that reaches completion; it is something that requires constant evolution and refinement. She stresses the importance of finding a mentor that can properly coach and guide a leader’s development based on their past experiences. Another challenge Adrienne encountered was the need to speak publicly. This is something she had always shied away from, but became crucial for her role at Pep. Adrienne reflects that she had to embrace this as a responsibility and she acknowledges practice, preparation, and experience as keys to successful public speaking.
Pep has grown from the original seven members in 2004 to over 240 individuals in 15 locations across North and South America. The family-oriented, entrepreneurial, collaborative nature of the company has been a major catalyst in the achievement of its goals.
Pep strives to be the best marketing partner in the world by setting annual goals and developing its keys to success. Personal goals are created around Pep’s five keys to success focusing on metrics, building relationships, and maintaining strong systems and processes. Looking back on her previous goals, Adrienne recalls that one of the first objectives the original seven members set was to remain in business by the end of the year! While not surprised by the accomplishments reached in such a short period of time, Adrienne is grateful for and proud of the successful, mid-sized company that has come to be.
Adrienne believes that Pep will continue its prosperous track-record in the years to come and predicts that there will be an expansion of clients on a global level. She forecasts that Pep will emerge as a leader in Shopper Marketing and Digital project management and procurement. Additionally, Adrienne looks forward to Pep’s creation of more client facing solutions by leveraging technology to provide more customized offerings. The sky is the limit at Pep!
-Ashley Martina & Abby Riazzi