Sandy Lam is an Assistant Marketing Manager for a consumer-facing goods company with many household brands.
EHC: Can you please explain what you do as an Assistant Marketing Manager?
Sandy: I work on two different teams. I am on the brand licensing team. Brand licensing is when a company gives a part of its brand name or brand trademark to another company in exchange for money. On this team, I review all of the product approvals. One of the primary brand licenses is a baby brand that manufactures cribs. The baby crib company will send a sketch of the crib to me; then, I ensure safety and health regulations are met, social accountability is present, and provide product approval. Prior to approving a brand license, the performance of the partner company is evaluated to ensure it’s a good partnership. The relationship is then consistently monitored.
I also serve on the operations & strategy team where I assist with internal processes and building capabilities. Innovation is the core foundation of the company I work for; innovation is also where consumers will find value, so that’s how our brand is upheld. Part of my role is to ensure innovations are passed through an innovation funnel. I also have to pay close attention to details because they are an important component upholding innovation.
Another component of my role is training other employees. I ensure they have core marketing skills such as pricing fundamentals, understanding the innovation funnel, and adhering to company policies. I am currently working on an internal training system to help employees understand expectations and learn how to perform in each level of the company: assistant, manager, senior manager, director, etc.
EHC: What is your favorite part of your career?
Sandy: I like the people and culture of my company. My managers continuously make sure I am satisfied with my work, that it’s interesting for me, and that I continue developing foundational skills for my career path. The company prioritizes balancing work, which is great. I love working, but I also enjoy other activities; for example, I try to run three times a week and enjoy baking and cooking with friends.
EHC: Can you describe your company’s culture in more detail?
Sandy: Yes! The director of my department is amazing. He is four grades above me but always demonstrates leadership. It’s always evident that he truly cares about everyone in the company. On Thursdays, the company does its weekly “snack attack,” which is a time to take a break from desks and build cross-functional relationships. It’s a fun, supportive, and collaborative culture!
EHC: What is the most challenging part of your job?
Sandy: The company has a lot of expectations for all of its employees. The work I do would likely be considered manager level at some companies. Everyone is expected to deliver results. As people build a career, though, results differentiate great companies from under-performing companies. So, results are key!
It can be challenging to balance my time between what I can do and what’s too much. It’s easy to experience a snowball effect with poor time management. If I have, say, three really big projects due all at the same time, I need to manage my time well. My company actually offers soft skill training such as communication and prioritization to help people succeed with this.
EHC: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Sandy: I wanted to be a teacher but didn’t realistically think about what I wanted to do until I got to college. What struck me was how much teachers helped others and put an emphasis on kids and helping others succeed. That resonated with me.
Even now, I see my managers wanting to make sure their employees succeed and providing mentorship. I am going to mentor the upcoming intern class, so I’ll have the opportunity to help shape someone’s career. To me, that’s how my interest in teaching manifests itself in my current role.
EHC: What steps did you take to get into this career?
Sandy: When I first arrived to college, I wanted to do something with people. At one point, I wanted to be a recruiter and help people find the right positions. Then, I explored brand marketing, and that struck a chord! I loved understanding how consumers think.
The products my company makes touch so many different aspects of people’s lives. And I think my decision goes back to that. I am interested in consumers–how they think and why they buy–which is probably why I stuck with marketing from freshman year all the way through college.
EHC: What advice would you offer to young women exploring careers?
Sandy: It’s ok to just not know what you want to do. I had no idea in high school, or really until college what I was interested in doing. Exploring and trying new things is the best way to figure out what you like doing. As a sophomore, I did a sales internship, but I didn’t like it. So, exploring can also help you eliminate options.
I moved to Atlanta and didn’t know anyone. I wouldn’t have the friends I have now had I not been positive and considered it a fresh start. Keeping an open mind and being friendly and curious about others is important. I ask questions at my job all the time! It helps me in my role but also helps me to understand what the company is doing at a high level so that I can make educated decisions.
Last, enjoy life! It’s easy to get caught up into thinking, “I have to do this! I have to do that!” Always give 100% effort, but take a minute to enjoy the day with friends and family. I am so lucky to see my family even more now than when I was in college.