Name: Sara Reeves
Title: Category Operations Manager – Snacks
Company: General Mills
Tenure with Current Company:  21 years
Years of Industry Experience:  25 years

Brief Career History:
I started my career with IRI, working onsite at the Kellogg Company. In late 1997, I accepted a role at Kimberly-Clark in Marketing Research, working on the toilet paper and paper towels categories. In 2000, I began working as a Retail Research Manager at General Mills, focusing on cereal. Over the last 21 years, I have held positions of increasing responsibility within Sales, Trade Marketing and Category Management here at General Mills. For the last 11 years, I have led our Snacks National Category Management team, working with the Snacks Business Unit, our Sales Regions and key customers. Additionally, I help lead our Bars category development with our international teams, focusing on the European and Australian markets.

In addition to my “day job,” I’m passionate about developing and supporting other women in Sales and have led a Work/Life Balance Mentor Circle for the last seven years.

Why are you excited to be part of the CMA?
The industry is undergoing unprecedented change; from the products consumers want, to how they shop for them, to where they shop for them, to what motivates and drives their purchasing. It’s exciting to be a part of this change, but it can also be overwhelming. I love being part of an organization that provides leadership, perspective and guidance to help the industry navigate through and understand the impact of these changes.

What do you hope to accomplish with the CMA Board?
Over the years, in my opinion, Category Management has become viewed as a bit “old school,” or “stale.” I want to help generate renewed excitement for Category Management by sharing both my passion as well as my ideas on how we can continue to evolve.

What are you most proud of? Career or personal or both.
Every year, our Sales Leadership Team chooses one sales employee to receive the Walter B. LeSuer award. This prestigious award recognizes standout results, consistent leadership, and a genuine and endearing approach to both work and life. The Walter B. LeSuer award is presented at our National Sales Meeting and the winner is completely surprised. In 2017, I was the recipient of this award. To be celebrated by my peers and the General Mills Leadership Team was such an incredible honor, especially since the award focuses on not just the results but the “how” behind the results. Standing onstage, looking out at my coworkers, mentors and all of our company’s leaders while I accepted this amazing award is a moment I will never forget.

What is the most important thing that needs to be addressed in the CATMAN discipline going forward and why?
I think we need to move beyond Category “Management” and into Category “Strategy.” What we do goes beyond pushing for distribution points and drawing POGs. We are true business partners, driving ideas, actions and results. To effectively transition into strategy leaders, it’s critical that we have the right people in these roles. Companies who ensure their CatMan teams are filled with passionate, energetic and responsive people will have a definite advantage in the marketplace.