After working hard to balance two majors at FSU while also volunteering at WFSU, Ashleigh McDonald launched into her career in marketing when she started off working at a sports marketing agency in Charlotte, NC.
“While parts of the job were amazing, it was a very fast paced, high turnover environment that was incredibly stressful at times,” recalls McDonald. ”Learning how to apply everything you learn in school to actual, real-life situations – including how to manage through obstacles and unforeseen challenges – taught me about the value of strategic thinking, and learning to approach seemingly unsuccessful programs as future opportunities.”
Conquering the fast paced world of sports marketing was made possible by the practice McDonald had as a busy student at FSU. Her heavy involvement on campus taught her time management and multitasking skills early on, and has helped her navigate her multifaceted career after college. However, time management and multitasking skills weren’t all that McDonald took away from her time as a Seminole.
“While I didn’t necessarily realize it at the time, all of the public speaking and on-air classes I was involved in helped to build my confidence in a way that I didn’t notice until years later,” explains McDonald. “Managing strategic programs now, I am frequently presenting very detailed information to large groups, and being able to do that in a clear and consistent manner has helped me to excel.”
After switching over into a position with Newell Rubbermaid, now Newell Brands, in marketing communications and brand activation, McDonald felt privileged to be able to help build a product’s persona. She explained that the way she was able to talk about a product to customers and consumers was a very gratifying experience. This gratification from marketing was only amplified when she started her career with the Coca-Cola Company.
“Coca-Cola is such an emotional brand with a rich heritage, when the opportunity came to make the move, it was something I could not turn down,” says McDonald.
As Director of Marketing Commercialization at Coca-Cola, McDonald leads a team of channel marketing managers to develop strategic commercial plans for bringing Coca-Cola products into the marketplace within their region of distribution. Her job also involves a significant amount of research around how the beverage category and its subcategories are changing, how competitors are innovating, and on what Coca-Cola can be doing to stay ahead of the curve.
“I love being able to walk into a store and know the story about why a certain brand or package is where it is on the shelf, who the target audience is, and why it’s important to the customer,” explains McDonald. “Not to mention that a lot of the merchandising equipment and point-of-sale material you see in the market stems from my team and me – to be a part of that is a really great feeling.
Over the next five years, McDonald is excited for whatever will come next.
“I love working here. I get to be around smart, driven and compassionate people every day,” says McDonald. “I’m not sure what the next five years will bring, but as long as it challenges me as a marketer I’m excited for it.”