Career Spotlight on Retail Management: Arselie Miller

What is your occupation?

I’m a Retail Sales Manager for Nestle in Southern California and manage a team of nine people.

What was your career path thus far like?

I feel like I’ve been all over the place!  Five years after graduating I have lived in three cities and held five positions in my company.  For me, I have always been somewhat involved in the food industry whether it was working in restaurants or even specialty cheese departments for part time jobs in high school and college so it seemed a natural fit that I ended up majoring in Food Marketing.  I interviewed for a position at Nestle as a college senior and was shipped up to Boston for my first role as a Retail Sales Representative (which is now the position I manage).  After a year in that role I moved to Los Angeles to work in the corporate headquarters as a Trade Analyst and then a Business Analyst for the Candy Division. After two years in those positions I was promoted to a Category Manager supporting Target and moved from 80 degree weather in California to -10 degree weather in Minneapolis. After an amazing year there I was sent back to California to begin my current role and here I am!

What is your biggest challenge as a manager?

The biggest challenge is the fact that every single person has different goals and motivations when it comes to their personal and professional life.  There is no cookie cutter way to manage everyone and it can be difficult to find the best way to interact with and motivate each individual.  My job is to identify what makes my people tick and work with them in a way that fits each person’s individual style so they will perform their best at any given task.  With a team of nine people, that’s nine different personalities to figure out, nine different goals, pressure points, interests, and aspirations.

What is the best think about being in management?

For me, I love the development side of management.  Seeing people come out of college eager and ready to learn and make their mark on the world has such an infectious level of energy attached to it.  I love working with them to channel their energies and train them on how to handle different situations and networking opportunities so they will have the skills they need to go in whichever direction their passion takes them.

Why did you choose to pursue a business degree?

Regardless of what you want to do, what you love, and which industry you want to get involved in, a knowledge of basic business skills can be the difference between success and failure.  For me, I love food, so the food industry was where I set myself up to be. A solid business foundation is critical to have when pursuing any opportunities. Whether you want to be a CEO of a major corporation or want to open your own art gallery someday, you will need to understand the basics of business to make sure your passion (and hopefully paycheck) is sustainable.

What piece of advice would you give someone that is currently in business school/college?

Explore!  You don’t need to know exactly what you want to do for the next five or 50 years of your life but you should follow your interests and see where they take you.  Especially during interviews, being prepared and ready to talk about varied experiences will help to set you apart and get your foot in the door wherever you choose to start your career.