Jaxie Alt, Senior Vice President at Dr Pepper Snapple, Dallas Native, and UCLA Grad
A family-oriented, Dallas native who went west for her undergrad degree at UCLA, Jaxie Alt returned after that to her hometown, where she has worked for the last fourteen years at the Dr Pepper Snapple Group. Now the Senior Vice President for Brand Marketing, Sponsorships and Merchandising, she says unequivocally that she absolutely “loves” her work, and that the large company is “very caring.”
She knew by the time she was in college that she wanted to be in the PR/marketing arena, and after graduation and working for the Taco Bell corporate offices as a Senior Promotions Analyst, decided to go back to school to get an MBA. She then moved on to Dr Pepper — America’s oldest soft drink, dating back to 1885! — and has worked there ever since, overseeing its group of over fifty brands, including Snappple, 7UP, A&W, Canada Dry, Clamato, Crush, Hawaiian Punch, Mott’s, Mr. & Mrs. T mixers, Peñafiel, Rose’s, Schweppes, Squirt and Sunkist soda.
Alt comes across as a humorous, deeply family-loving person, who calls her mom every day before work, describes her two boys as “awesome and crazy,” and emphasizes how important it is to have a full life outside work, saying that she knows it makes her better at her job. She offers the book recommendation of The Empress Has No Clothes, noting that it deals with eradicating the “Imposter Syndrome” from your life, and is articulate about her wish, way over a decade ago, to attain her MBA so she would have a better skillset.
It obviously paid off, because her daily routine now consists of a bevy of meetings concerned with social media planning, media advertising, and reviewing sponsorship activities with the Dallas Cowboys, as well as an upcoming United Way campaign, of which her company is a huge supporter. If you want to get a dose of Southern positivity and business smarts into your day, read on for more about Jaxie Alt.
Can you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in Dallas, Texas, and went to UCLA for undergrad. I had some cool internships during college to try and figure out what I wanted to do with my life; they were at Paramount Studios, CNN, The Los Angeles Lakers, The-Make-A-Wish Foundation, and CBS Sports – and I absolutely fell in love with marketing and brands. So upon graduating, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do, but I knew it was something related to PR, advertising or marketing.
I worked at Taco Bell in their promotions group early in my career, and while I enjoyed it, I quickly found I was in over my head in terms of having the proper skillset — so I went to business school to get my MBA, and specialized in marketing.
After that I went to Dr Pepper Snapple Group as an Associate Brand Manager, and fourteen years later, I’m still loving it! Amazing brands, competitive business, and great people. I get to be one of those lucky people who loves their job — I now lead brand strategy and marketing for Dr Pepper, and my team leads sponsorships, merchandising, and travel & event services for our entire company.
As for my personal life, I just had my eleventh wedding anniversary, and I also have two awesome, crazy boys, ages seven and nine. So like many, I’m a working mom, trying to balance everything. Some days I feel like I’ve got this covered, and other days my life is a complete circus!
What does a day in your shoes typically look like?
Every day starts with lots of snuggles with my boys. Then it’s get everyone ready for school and get them dropped off – my husband and I tag-team, so sometimes it’s him, sometimes it’s me.
Then work starts around 8:30 a.m., and I’m typically in meetings all day and usually through lunch. One thing I love about my job is the shift that happens from meeting to meeting: in one meeting I can be reviewing Dr Pepper television advertising, social strategy or media planning – and in the next one, I might be getting an update from my sponsorships team on upcoming events with the Dallas Cowboys or other teams we work with.
From there, I move on to reviewing innovative merchandising solutions and how we drive costs out to get the best price for our bottlers. And right now, a bulk of my time is being spent on our upcoming corporate United Way campaign that I am chairing for 2015; as a company, this October we will raise $2.5MM for United Way across the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Then I’m home around 6 p.m., and it’s all family time until my boys are asleep around 8:30 p.m. Next, I’m usually back online for about two hours working. Then a little social media, and reading to wind down, and I’m off to sleep!
What 2-3 things do you do to prepare yourself before work, and is there anything you try to accomplish every day?
- The day before, I always review my schedule for the next day to make sure I am fully prepared for all meetings.
- I check my email/texts right when I wake up to make sure nothing urgent hit overnight.
- Every day I try and have quality time with my kids – a real conversation – to go beyond “How was your day?” and hear about all the details.
- Every day on my way home I call a friend or family member to help me stay connected to those I love, but don’t get to see all the time.
What is your breakfast of choice?
A Luna Bar and a Diet Dr Pepper. I never started drinking coffee, so Diet Dr Pepper has been my caffeine source since college!
What are your rituals or tips for staying energized and motivated?
- Sleep…work out…eat right…the usual stuff!
- Find projects at work to focus on that you really love, so you can then deal with the other things that aren’t your favorite.
- Set goals outside of work – having a full and balanced life outside of work makes me better at my job.
What is the favorite part of your job?
Brands and people. I am really blessed to work with amazing brands and amazing people. When I tell people what I do, it always seems they have deep emotional connections with our brands like Dr Pepper, 7UP, Snapple and Mott’s. But most importantly for me, our company is filled with really bright, driven people who are also very kind and caring. It’s a big company, but we function like a family. It’s a really special place to work.
What and who inspires you at work?
Learning new things inspires me. Great creative work inspires me. And coaching strong, driven talent and watching them build their careers inspires me; I really enjoy coaching – it’s one of the best parts of my job.
Do you have a ‘Power Outfit’ that you wear for a big meeting or important work event?
Sheath dress in a dark color, heels, and a statement necklace.
What is your favorite leisure activity after a stressful work week?
Sitting on my front porch with my husband watching my kids play in the front yard.
How does your culture/background influence your work?
My mom graduated #1 in her class in 1960 with a business degree, but because she was getting married, no one would hire her. They figured she would just have babies and quit! But a professor called in a favor, and she got a job a large department store in Dallas as a buyer. She became the top buyer in her division, and was incredibly successful. So my mom always encouraged me, and told me I could do anything I put my mind to. To this very day, I call my Mom every morning on my way to work.
How many times have you changed your career direction?
I’ve actually never changed course. As noted, I knew going into college that I wanted to do something in communications/PR/advertising/marketing. What I found over time was that I loved understanding the consumer and building strategies to grow brands. So I’ve been doing marketing my entire career, and I absolutely love it.
What has been the biggest obstacle in your career, and how did you overcome it?
About three years into my career, I realized I didn’t have the marketing chops I needed. I was in meetings and the content was over my head – not a good feeling. After a few of those meetings, I decided to go back to business school to get my MBA. I have to say, it was the best decision I have made for my career. I gained a lot of knowledge — and most importantly, I gained more confidence in myself.
What are your most steadfast ‘don’ts’ rules regarding work and the workplace, and what are your most cherished ‘do’s’?
- Don’t doubt your own abilities.
- Don’t use the words “we can’t do that.” Instead, always say “How do we figure this out?”
- Don’t try to be perfect. Perfect is boring and unattainable. People with warts and struggles are far more interesting.
- Do walk in the door every day with a positive attitude.
- Do make sure your people know you care about them beyond “the job.”
- Do have a full life outside the office.
What are the most important qualities of a good leader?
- Set a vision: the team needs to know what success is, and the path to achieve it.
- Inspire Your Team: use passion and energy to make people want to follow you.
- Be a Strong Coach: dedicate time to growing your team, and building out great talent below you.
What are the unforgettable traits of role models who have inspired you most?
I’m most inspired by leaders who set a vision, and can really fire up the team to go achieve it. I’m also very inspired by leaders who empower their team – they are there to coach, but they let their people run. I’ve had several bosses like this, and they are very rewarding to work for.
How have mentors impacted your personal and professional development?
I’ve never had a “formal” mentor, but many people have helped me grow both personally and professionally through coaching and feedback.
What are three questions you like to ask during an interview to know if the candidate (or job) is the right fit?
- “Tell me the project you are most proud of in your career, and why?”
- “Tell me your toughest coaching experience — and what did you learn from it?”
- “What are you passionate about?”
What advice would you give to women starting their careers?
Do what you love, and the money will follow.
What book would you recommend for women just starting their career?
The Empress Has No Clothes by Joyce Roche. It’s about the “Imposter Syndrome,” and how people doubt themselves when they achieve success. Great book about believing in yourself!
What is your favorite quote you try to live by?
“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as you ever can.” — John Wesley
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