Name: Samuel Raia
Title: Director, Retail Sales Development
Company: JUUL Labs
Certification Obtained: CPSA

How long have you or your company been a member of the CMA?
We’ve been CMA members for roughly two years, shortly after we launched our category management team.

Why did you decide to become certified?
I decided to become certified because I’ve really found a passion in the industry. I love figuring out how all the puzzles pieces fit together and partnering directly with retailers who aren’t afraid to dream big. Getting certified has provided me with a foundation for success and continuing education will help me stay at the forefront of new ideas and strategies.

My manager, Alex Drew, who has become a great friend and mentor, originally brought CMA to JUUL and is certified himself, which acted as another strong motivating factor.

What was the most interesting thing you learned as you completed the training and certification?
One of the most interesting topics I’ve completed during the training was the section on strategic selling and negotiation, which is an area I’ve always been interested in and continually try to improve upon. Learning to better leverage data and overall category management into strong sales stories to meet both retailer and vendor needs is absolutely invaluable.

How do you feel you will use this certification in your current role?
In my current role, I focus on small to mid-sized C-store chains. I believe this certification will provide the type of deeper insights and support that has been traditionally reserved for the larger national chains. Many of these shops are family owned and they’ve built their store base from the ground up. That’s something I genuinely respect—and I would love to support their growth.

What advice would you give someone considering completing the training and certification?
For anyone considering becoming certified, I’d recommend taking the leap. Whether you’ve been in the industry for quite a while or you’re just getting started, there’s always something new to learn. Even those who are not directly in category management could benefit because the training focuses on problem solving, story crafting and getting results. It’s personally helped me work better cross-functionally and connect better with my customers. If you’re looking for an opportunity that can stretch you outside your comfort zone and offer professional growth, then the certification programs are for you.