A Day in the Life of Enactus Alumna, Kirena Sheppard
From Internship to Career with Del Monte Foods
The company: Del Monte Foods
The job: Category Development Manager
Kirena’s background: Kirena earned her Bachelor’s degree from John Brown University in 2009. She got involved with the Enactus team during her sophomore year, serving as a presentation speaker and project leader. Kirena was the President & CEO of JBU’s Enactus team during her senior year.
“If it wasn’t for Enactus, I wouldn’t have been aware of this industry or be in my job,” says Kirena, who has worked with Del Monte Foods since 2009.
“As a sophomore at John Brown University, I was attracted to the Enactus team because it was such a popular organization on campus. It didn’t take long to discover that it was bigger than I anticipated. Our Sam Walton Fellow told me about the opportunities we had to literally change the world. We had 80 team members, and I had the privilege to partner with friends and peers on campus, and benefit the lives of others in the community and around the world. It was wonderful to be involved in something so powerful. I realized that nowhere else could I find a similar opportunity.
“I got very involved in my junior year and became a presentation speaker and project leader. In my senior year, I was President and CEO of our team, and we were one of the final four teams at the Enactus USA National Exposition.
“Del Monte offered an internship for Enactus students, and I was one of two given that opportunity between my junior and senior year. The program was led by an Enactus alum. During my senior year, I stayed connected with Del Monte, and when I graduated in 2009, they offered me a position as a Supply Chain Analyst. In June 2012, I was promoted to Category Development Manager.
“Enactus helped me grow personally and prepared me professionally for my work at Del Monte. Today, I support our Walmart Sales team. I help identify actionable insights and trends in efforts to help grow the categories in which we compete. Over the past few years, Del Monte Foods has invested in consumer research to better understand who our shoppers are. I strive to interpret the insights and share them with our team.
Here is a typical day on the job:
5:45 am I’m a morning person. My iPhone alarm wakes me up, and after hitting the snooze button a couple times, I’m up by 6:00am. The first thing I do is read a Bible verse to serve as inspiration and encouragement throughout the day. I write it in a journal that I keep next to my bed. Then I write a few things I want to accomplish to make my day a success.
6:30 am I brew a cup of green tea while getting ready. Since my undergrad days, I have enjoyed dressing professionally, so I usually wear a skirt and blouse, a dress or slacks with heels.
7:40 am Off to the office. I live very close to the office with my husband Jameson, an Enactus alum, whom I met at school. I was a business major and he was a digital media major. Later he told me he worked on our Enactus video and annual report just so he could be around me!
7:50 am Arrive at the office, a large, new brick building. I have a nice cubicle next to the window with a pretty view.
8:00 am I eat a plain Greek yogurt with honey and have a second cup of green tea. I sort through e-mails and take care of anything that is pending from the previous day. I then print out my daily Outlook calendar to review upcoming meetings. On the far right side of the page, I write my daily “to-do” list.
We have about eight categories comprising more than 350 items at our customer, Walmart. I currently support all of our Pet and Consumer Product categories. This entails a lot of meetings, presentations and opportunities to interact with Walmart. I spend most of my time preparing for these meetings, retrieving the data that supports the objective and helping to put the PowerPoint deck together. I rely on our primary research as well as secondary research to offer strategic insight. My role focuses on understanding the consumer and what is influencing the category to ultimately implement growth-driving strategies. I’ll gather data and information and present it internally and externally to our customer.
My daily tasks are heavily influenced by future meetings. I am usually working against an upcoming deliverable or presentation. During the morning, I like to identify the most important initiative that we are pursuing and tackle that prior to anything else. For the meetings that I am involved with, there typically is a section of the PowerPoint called Category Insights, for which I provide my contributions. At Del Monte, we believe in cross-functional collaboration because we understand the potential that it has to lead to exceptional results for the customer and, ultimately, the shopper.
12:30 pm More times than not, I simply forget to eat lunch. I get caught up in my “to-do list” and I will just skip right over it. If I do stop, I typically eat a sandwich or some type of cracker snack and fruit.
My afternoon is usually filled with meetings and prepping for presentations. Before I leave for the day, I like to write down my expectations and deliverables for the next day.
6:00 pm On a good day, I leave by 6pm. I used to go to graduate school classes after work, but I just graduated, so now I’m happy to go straight home!
6:30 pm Jameson and I make dinner together and have fun with that. We really like using emeals.com, a subscription-based service that generates meal ideas, recipes, ingredient lists and even weekly shopping lists. Right now my husband and I are working out at home so we are trying to stick with the healthy meal plan they recommend.
After dinner I might read on my iPad, watch a little TV (New Girl, Downton Abbey) or jump on Pinterest. I love looking for new home décor or crafting ideas.
10:00 pm Lights Out!
Del Monte has hired several interns from Enactus. The internship committee talks about how much more polished, mature and sharp Enactus candidates are. My advice for students is to stay focused and determined. Be prompt and prepared for meetings and conversations. Understand your role and how to contribute. If you have a meeting coming up, arrive with ideas on how you will accomplish a task. Develop good habits to stay organized now while you are juggling school and extracurricular activities. Work hard, do your best and strive for excellence. If you put in the time and effort up front, it will pay off!