Take the Time to Set Your Professional Development Plan

March 7, 2016

By Kate Short, chair of the ANA Procurement Mentoring Program

Early on in my career, I was asked to take on media as my purchasing category. While I have a degree in marketing, I was in no way an expert in media. Though I asked colleagues for some help in coming up to speed, I soon learned that I was on my own. Like all new category managers, I wanted to appear competent and confident in order to gain the respect from the media team I was now leading.  Additionally, I wanted to build a successful relationship with the media manager and be a great partner to marketing. Needless to say, I was at a loss as to what to do or even where to start.

Sound familiar?

Thankfully, I discovered the ANA offered a Media 101 course! This proved to be invaluable to building a foundation for me in media, from which I could then ask more challenging and relevant questions from our internal media and agency teams. 

As I think back on that experience, I wonder how many of us take the time at the beginning of the year to map out the classes, conferences, mentorships, etc. that will be instrumental in building our knowledge of marketing to help us grow professionally. 

We are so fortunate that there is an association for advertisers providing a wealth of opportunities to learn and grow from one another. I know that I continue to benefit from attending these conferences — not only from a learning perspective but also as an opportunity to make great network connections.

If there are budget constraints, one alternative to training or conferences could be to get involved in committee meetings that may be close to your location or calling in to the meetings, if travel is prohibitive. Additionally, I recommend taking advantage of the ANA’s Procurement Mentoring Program. It’s free and helps connect seasoned marketing procurement professionals with those that are new to the profession or just looking to learn more. The ANA does a great job of pairing people based on topics of interest or learning. I personally love all the benefits the mentoring program provides! As I have been lucky enough to be a mentor for several years now, and now chair of the program, I find that I learn more than what I give and love the ability to connect with people from other companies to discuss ideas. For those of you that have been in marketing procurement for a while, consider becoming a mentor and sharing your robust experience.

We all know that employees are a company’s greatest asset. Isn’t it time — and money — well spent to spend a few hours this month mapping out a plan for your professional development?

Kate Short is the Marketing Procurement Group Manager for Nestle North America. As chair of the ANA Procurement Mentoring Program, she is leading a webinar on March 18, “How to Find, Mentor and Grow Marketing Procurement Talent.” She will also lead a session at the Advertising Financial Management Conference and lead a breakfast roundtable discussion on marketing procurement mentoring and talent.


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