After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, Michelle Then entered into Advantage Solutions’ ACE (Accelerated Career Experience) leadership development program. The one-year training program provided her with the opportunity to explore a number of different areas within the company – “a full immersion into all things Advantage,” she says. She then joined the company full time and has since held different roles, from sales to operations on various retail sampling platforms. She is one of three Women of Excellence honorees in the “Rising Star” category.

What are your current responsibilities?

Then: As the senior client services manager for a national retail sampling platform, I work with my team to oversee data analysis, reporting, operations, internal systems and the overall event scheduling process – as well as anything else that comes to my plate.

How did the ACE program help you launch your career?

Then: It was an amazing opportunity that allowed me to explore the company’s service offerings and the go-to-market strategy, which is constantly changing, and develop relationships at every single level within the company. This is a large organization, and it enabled me to understand the different segments within it and meet so many different people. That allowed for better connectivity throughout the organization to make everything a little bit more efficient. It still positively impacts my career growth with Advantage today.

You were recently part of the start-up team to launch a new platform with the No. 2 grocery retailer. What was your role in that?

Then:  When we launched the business, I worked on anything and everything we needed to go from zero to 100. It was a busy and hectic time because we were in launch mode, but we worked on everything from hiring and training our new team to establishing our operations and processes. I was also the national sales point of contact to drive the business, and last but not least, I led our client services team. It was definitely a group effort and I had a great team to partner with every step of the way.

How do you look at shopper marketing today?

Then: In the simplest form, it’s always changing, which means it’s never boring. That makes me want to keep going. There are always new opportunities to venture into because of that change. It’s as simple as providing that positive and memorable engaging shopper experience every time and everywhere, whether online or in the store that makes a big impact to shoppers and consumers.

What motivates you to continue on this career path?

Then: What we can do now compared to even when I started has evolved tremendously. We’re constantly changing and keeping up with the trends and even getting ahead of them. From an industry and technology perspective, the fact that it’s constantly evolving allows me to learn and explore new areas. It’s very exciting to see what’s out there and the new areas to venture into, whether for the retailers, brands or both that we work with.