Working at Advantage

When I joined Advantage Solutions in 2004 as a 22-year-old retail sales specialist working in grocery stores, I was new to the consumer goods and retail industry. Just months after graduating from St. Bonaventure University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, I was searching for a company that would allow me to learn and train me from the ground up so that I could grow from a first real job into a potential lifelong career.

Like our 30,000 retail merchandisers today, my days were filled with correcting product voids, where products aren’t just out of stock, they have lost their slot on the shelf; introducing new products onto the shelf; building displays; and selling in our clients’ product promotions to store managers. I was responsible for the merchandising and incremental sales of iconic brands in dozens of stores and learning the important fundamentals of getting products into the hands of shoppers, forming strong relationships based on trust and delivering on promises at the store level. I was problem-solving and learning how to communicate to influence decisions and operate with a bias for action. It was exciting, rewarding and, I admit, sometimes intimidating, as I grew into my role.

What I didn’t know while I was packing out cases of products to drive sales for one of the company’s largest clients, is this entry-level position would be the first step in a career journey that would lead to an executive leadership role. Today, I’m responsible for all of Advantage Sales’ merchandising services and retail sales analytics, charged with growing the business and partnering with our company’s IT team on transformative retail technology innovation.

Along the way, I’ve had the mentorship and training I needed to advance my career. I learned to embrace the notion of being patient and listening to others to tap into the power of collaboration. My experiences have helped me become the leader I hope I am today: authentic and open in my approach, someone who provides honest, respectful feedback and empowers others to be leaders.

Because I’ve grown my career here, I’m often asked by others how they can advance their career at Advantage. My advice is always the same: Raise your hand, ask questions, seek feedback and, when you’re ready, ask for more. That’s what I did. I worked with my managers across my many roles to create a career plan to gain the experiences I’d need to take the next step and face the next challenge.

And I’ve seen so many others do the same.

Andy Keenan
Executive Vice President, Retail Services
Advantage Sales

Andy Keenan leads Advantage Sales’ dedicated and syndicated retail teams, merchandising services, retail sales analytics and retail business development and works with Advantage’s IT team on retail technology innovation.

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