March is Women's History Month and that has special significance for baking industry supplier Dawn Foods. The company’s chief executive officer, Carrie Jones-Barber, started as a sales rep for Dawn, where she was the only female sales rep in her market. Since then, she has learned how to stand out in a male-dominated industry.
Carrie Jones-Barber recently discussed her experiences in the business world and the role women have to play in the industry going forward.
What do you most remember about the business world when you started?
Jones-Barber: After I finished school, I started in medical sales. My primary customers were male doctors, and I learned early on that I was going to have to work harder than my male counterparts to demonstrate that I knew the benefits of our products and the value they could provide. I understood quickly that more prospective customers were going to turn me down than say yes, but I didn’t give up.
When I came to work at Dawn, the food industry was very male dominated. I was the only female salesperson in my market. All my competitors were represented by men. I remember having people outright ignore me if I didn’t have a male colleague with me. But I was persistent. I was confident in my product knowledge and my skills to help customers grow their business. I remember going into the shop of a prospective customer for the first time to run some product. They were amazed that I could make the donuts myself, without anyone else’s help. Not only could I run the product, but I also knew the optimal temperature for the fryer, and what the best product assortment was to grow their sales.
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