Profile: Kristi Running, Manager, North American Display Planning, General Mills

A 19-year veteran of General Mills, Kristi Running has held roles in finance, customer service, logistics and demand planning in her time there. Just less than three years ago, she assumed her current post as manager of North American display planning. Her unique background (a history degree with a master’s in international relations) affords her the opportunity to keep an open mind – versus relying on formal training – when identifying problems or opportunities in any given situation and determining the best way to execute against them. Running is one of three Women of Excellence honorees in the “Collaboration” category.

What are your current responsibilities?

Running: I manage the team that handles the end-to-end for all displays within the organization. We develop new ideas, work with our sales and marketing teams to understand strategies and how in-store display can support those strategies, and manage our material and fulfillment partners – all the way to shipping it out the door. We’re the in-store and display experts for the field sales and marketing teams, helping them understand the value of displays and executing solutions for their opportunities.

Is it collaborative effort with other teams within General Mills?

Running: It’s what we do every day. Neither my team nor I have a job if not for the collaboration piece. It’s extremely important for big projects but in smaller everyday work, too. It’s our job to keep an open mind, be informed about all issues and opportunities and then figure out the “what ifs.” To me collaboration is definitely not a zero-sum game. There are no winners and losers; it’s how you work with people to come up with a better solution than any one team could get to individually.

Do you have an example of a collaborative effort?

Running: We do retailer showcases in company headquarters, in partnership with our internal sales team. We set up display showcases to help the retailer understand what our capabilities are. It’s very high visibility and a great opportunity to help them understand what we can do, but it requires a high level of collaboration with all of my outside partners. It’s the conversations we have throughout this process that help us find the best solutions more quickly and effectively.

What motivates you?

Running: Providing the best solution. Most people still see shopping as a chore, so we’re always looking to make it easier, more interesting or more fun. It’s about putting products together on a display or endcap to give shoppers a better solution. It’s not always just about the big ideas – I’m a fan of the little ones, too.

What excites you most?

Running: How shopper marketing is delving into personalization and how we can connect with an individual shopper on their shopping journey as opposed to a shopper segment or a shopper prototype. What does that mean when the shopper is actually in the store and at the display? It will be interesting to see what comes next in terms of getting that personal experience when you’re in the store.