Degree: BS in Marketing, MBA
Class Year: 2016
Position and Employer: Associate Brand Manager, Bimbo Bakeries USA
Like a number of Drexel students, Lia Arakelian went from co-op to career with the same company. She took the next step, though: going from co-op, to full-time to a promotion at Bimbo Bakeries USA, all in quick succession.
Based locally in Horsham, Pa., Bimbo Bakeries USA owns many well-known brands of breads and baked goods: Sara Lee, Ball Park, Entenmann’s and Thomas’ English Muffins, among others. Lia works as associate brand manager for Sara Lee-Artesano, overseeing several products and their performance in the market. “I’m the middleman between different key initiatives for my brand,” she says. “It varies every day, given the priorities of my team.”
Bimbo had acquired the Sara Lee brand just before Lia started her co-op in fall 2013. Additionally, an assistant brand manager had just left the company, and as a result, Lia says she was called on to do more in her role than she’d expected during that transition period. After completing her co-op in spring 2014, Lia was one of nine undergraduate students awarded 2015 Co-op of the Year from the Steinbright Career Development Center.
After starting full-time in an assistant brand manager role, she worked her way to a promotion after just over a year, and now manages relationships with external vendors, makes changes to labeling and packaging and does weekly financial reporting on all of her brands. That last part of her responsibilities draws heavily on finance skills she honed during her MBA.
Lia’s concentration during her MBA was in finance after majoring in marketing as an undergrad. “To me, marketing was more intuitive,” she says. “I came to finance during my MBA and put a lot of work into it while keeping marketing in the back of my mind.”
“I really learned the culture of the company, and the structures and processes you’re supposed to follow,” she says. Though Bimbo has changed since her co-op – it has grown through acquiring numerous other brands and renovated its headquarters – she feels that gaining this knowledge was instrumental in helping her land her current position.
During her MBA study, she had a full-time role in accounting with URBN. “It was a balancing act, but I would definitely recommend the program,” she says. “I was able to get both degrees, and I ended up branching out in the classes I was taking.”
For current students seeking to make the most of their time at LeBow, Lia recommends keeping a close eye on the online events calendar. “I was always looking for a speaker that sounded interesting or a networking event I could attend,” she says. “That really helped me and inspired me. If you make a habit of it, you can really make a network for yourself early on.”