Home Alumni in Action A Day in the Life of Enactus Alumna, Erin McDonnell

Getting up at midnight to deliver chips gave this Enactus alumna the first-hand experience to soar at Frito Lay


The company: Frito Lay, a division of PepsiCo, Inc.

The job: Key Account Manager

Erin’s background: Erin first met recruiting representatives from Frito Lay in 2006 at Texas State University-San Marcos where she was Vice President of her Enactus team. Each year she kept in touch during regional competitions and was extended an offer two months prior to graduation in 2007 to work in their District Sales Leader Training Program.


Erin McDonnell Key Account Manager Frito Lay

Erin McDonnell
Key Account Manager
Frito Lay

“For the next six months, I learned the ins and out of business, ran a truck route, and got up at 12:30 in the morning to deliver chips to grocery and convenience stores,” she says enthusiastically. “The company had a great support unit for new hires. We learned how to manage a small district of about a dozen people, and about accounting, hiring and operations.” Next she took selling classes to prepare to be a District Sales Leader (DSL) for the ensuing nine months. Her responsibilities expanded to include six routes that accounted for about $15 million in annual sales. “It was just like managing a small business with a lot of autonomy, so I had to be organized and self-motivated. I led 13 full-time and 10 part-time people and was responsible for their safety, scheduling and all the daily operations of the business so we could work together and achieve our goals.”

During the summer of 2010, Erin went on special assignment to support Food for Good with PepsiCo. “We delivered nutritious food to children who are faced with meal uncertainty in the summer. The food has to follow FDA guidelines on temperature, serving size, and food group regulations. I led a team of 12 seasonal drivers with ten routes in the Dallas area and had many of the same responsibilities of a DSL, with the added challenge of learning a refrigerated delivery process. Each day I conducted a team meeting, tracked meals served, planned menus, and removed obstacles for the drivers. Food for Good that summer delivered close to 300,000 meals. It was a wonderful experience.”

Upon returning to her regular position, Erin trained and mentored newly hired DSLs and traveled throughout the state training other managers. She recently was promoted to Key Account Manager covering Texas.

Shortly after being named a DSL, Erin bought her first home, conveniently located to her market and close to family in Dallas. “I have two cats and three dogs and a yard; it’s like a small farm!” While she says no day is typical in this industry, she shares insight into her routine:

5:30 am I’m up early to walk my lab, rescued white German shepherd and teacup Yorkie, whom I usually carry, around the neighborhood. We play ball at the park for about an hour. Then it’s back home to feed my animals and watch the news.

6:30 am I usually have a bowl of cereal and grapefruit and check my e-mail. Dress is typically business casual – black suit pants and a button-down shirt. If I’m in the office, I wear heels; if I’m out in the market, I wear slip-resistant flats.

8:00 am My commute to the office takes about 15 minutes winding through residential streets, so I listen to music or sports radio and relax. I’m in the office about half of the week; otherwise, I’m on the road. I work in a large one-story building that houses about 250 people. On one side is the Texas Region Office and on the other is our distribution center.

The first thing I do when I arrive is check my to-do list. Every Friday I plan and prioritize for the upcoming week, so my list guides me through the week.

I handle a variety of tasks, from reviewing sales performance, planning promotional calendars, meeting with chain buyers and going to accounts where I conduct “Work Withs,” with sales team members or chain buyers to make sure we are developing accounts, growing the business and executing programs. I cover all of Texas so I travel a lot.

When I’m in the office I focus on developing sales presentations, delivering accurate communication to the sales team and buyers, analyzing field sales and competitors, tracking goals and planning our business. I address considerable paperwork that helps with analysis, comparisons, contracts and more. I participate in weekly conference calls with counterparts and key account managers for small format stores (convenience stores).

Noon: Lunch almost always includes chips, and there are a lot of them in the office! Sometimes I’ll drive home and let the dogs out, and have a sandwich or a salad.

5:00 pm I head home, change clothes and go to the gym for an hour or so three to four times a week. I like to change up my workout to keep it interesting and do cardio, weights, swim or a class like kickboxing. Once a week, I’ll do a girls’ night, and I try to have family dinner every Friday with my parents and two older brothers.

10:00 pm Lights out!

Selling is my favorite aspect of the job. I really enjoy working with customers to align with their goals to successfully grow both our businesses, so I try to meet with them as often as possible. If you can adapt to change, you will be great in this industry. I rely most heavily on communication, leadership and execution skills, many of which I gained through my Enactus background. This job has been a great transition from college, because I’m not in an office all day. It allows me to be active, lead people, achieve goals, learn how to develop others’ leadership skills, and it’s entrepreneurial. You are in the market constantly, challenging yourself to beat your goals, and think creatively about how to lead your team. It’s incredible to have so much opportunity for learning, leadership and growth at such a young age.”

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