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Heather Doyle (center) speaks at SDSU's 2020 Women in Entrepreneurship and Leadership event on February 27, 2020. (Photo: Fowler College of Business) Heather Doyle (center) speaks at SDSU's 2020 Women in Entrepreneurship and Leadership event on February 27, 2020. (Photo: Fowler College of Business)

Getting Her Career in High Gear

The numerous career fairs offered at SDSU give students the opportunity to network with hiring employers.
By Fowler College of Business News Team

“It sounds cheesy, but the best piece of advice I can give is for students just to be themselves.”

In 2016, San Diego State University marketing professor Steven Osinski walked into his Marketing 377 course one morning and told the class there would be a career fair on campus that week. Osinski then asked the class who was planning to attend.

“Only about a quarter of the class raised their hands,” recalled Heather Doyle, a student in that class. “His follow-up question was ‘How many in the class have a job lined up post-graduation?’ Only a couple people raised their hands. He then says ‘So, what are the rest of you doing?’’ 

Osinski’s prompting led Doyle to attend the career fair where she talked with several organizations, but it was her conversation with the Frito-Lay representatives that intrigued her. 

“I looked up the company information online, applied, and was able to get a campus interview a few weeks later,” she said. “The entire interview process took about three months from the first interview to the final job offer.”

First Glamour-less Role

Doyle, who earned her degree in marketing from SDSU in 2016, went to work for Frito-Lay that September as a sales associate, but it wasn’t exactly the prestigious career she expected.

“During the first three months of my training, I was required to wake up at 1 a.m. to deliver and set up displays of Frito-Lay products in grocery stores throughout San Diego,” she said. “I’d wake up, make myself coffee and throw on a company polo shirt and a pair of pants. By no means was it the glamorous job that I expected where I wore slacks and put in an eight-hour day. In fact, I averaged about 13 hours a day.” 

VIDEO: Highlights of the Women in Entrepreneurship and Leadership Forum

While stocking shelves and setting up displays made for long hours and hard work, it was a necessary part of Doyle’s training. Six months after she started with Frito-Lay, she was promoted to the position of district sales leader and began managing a team of 10–15 people who did this type of work on a routine basis. 

In her new position, Doyle was charged with developing new hires and training her team to spot new sales opportunities as they arose. While she felt comfortable with that part of her new job, the promotion itself put her in uncharted territory since she was one of only two females on the entire management team and the only manager who was a recent college graduate. 

“I had been with the company for only six months, so trying to have a tough conversation with employees who were 20-year company veterans about pursuing potentially new sales opportunities could be extremely challenging,” said Doyle. “But I realized that if I stayed consistent with my expectations and kept my word when I offered help, we could easily achieve results together.” 

Jumpstarting Her Career

These early lessons were important to Doyle since she was again promoted exactly two years after her first promotion. Since July 2019, Doyle has served as the senior zone supervisor for Frito-Lay where she is responsible for managing sales teams and cost efficiencies for the entire San Diego distribution center. This meant she was now managing many of her former peers which she said could be difficult at times. 

“The fact that I am able to put myself in their shoes because I’ve done their job has helped me to overcome some initial difficulties in my new role,” she noted. “I’ve also learned to be more effective by setting clear boundaries by separating work and personal interactions.”

Doyle still attends the same type of college career fairs Osinski encouraged his class to attend in 2016, but now she attends as a member of the Frito-Lay recruiting team for San Diego-based universities including SDSU.

Doyle returned to campus in late February to serve as a panelist at SDSU's Women in Entrepreneurship and Leadership event.

For those students who are looking to interview with Frito-Lay, she offers these words of advice: “It sounds cheesy, but the best piece of advice I can give is for students just to be themselves,” she said. “I want to learn who you are in the professional environment as well as the kind of person you are in your personal life.”