October 2015: Mary Lyles, Sourcing Analyst at Starbucks

Mary & Starbucks CEO Schultz

Mary enrolled as an undergraduate at Georgia State University in the fall of 2009, and had to choose between two career paths: one would take her down the biology and pre-dentistry route, and the other would follow a five year language and Master of International business program. The five year program won after considering the long list of science courses needed to become a dentist!
Armed with a keen sense of curiosity and enthusiasm for learning about cultures, languages, and religions, it quickly became clear that Mary found her career fit in the international arena. She concluded her senior year as an undergraduate student with the Spanish language study abroad program in Granada, Spain. This experience gave her the confidence to join the Master of International Business program (MIB) offered by the Robinson College of Business.
With mentoring, support, and guidance received as an MIB student, Mary secured an internship at Diaz Foods, a leading Atlanta based Hispanic food distributor. At Diaz Foods, Mary developed a passion for supply chain and sourcing. Upon completion of her internship at Diaz Foods, Mary secured an internship as a graduate assistant in the Language Acquisition Resource Center at GSU. Diaz Foods however, soon reached out to Mary and brought her back on board to lead the development of their private label brand D’Sabor.
Mary worked diligently on developing and growing the D’Sabor brand, including locating and sourcing manufacturers domestically and internationally. At the time, Diaz Foods also acquired La Cena Fine Foods, a New Jersey based company that distributed Hispanic food products in the northeast. This was an opportunity for Mary to work on an acquisition team, and ensure synergy with the acquired company. After two productive years at Diaz Foods, Mary was ready for a change of scenery; she knew the world was too small to live in one place!
In April 2015, Mary accepted a position with the Starbucks Coffee Company at their Evolution Fresh juice plant. Mary is responsible for the daily operations associated with juice production, in addition to other domestic and international projects in food business at Starbucks. Her goal is to lead the firm’s efforts for international expansion.

Advice for International Career
Develop a “Global Mindset,“ and recognize that what around the world affects you. Globalization has changed the way business is done, and firms, more than ever, need talent with a global mindset. Also, realize that your dreams will not happen overnight. But, if you keep your mind focused on your end goal, you will get there! In addition, cultivating relationships with a diverse group of associates and friends will expose you to different cultures, increasing your knowledge of the global community.

Success Factors
“Network! I cannot stress the importance of it. Without networking, I definitely would not be where I am today. You never know, the person you will meet next, maybe the one that will help you meet your goals. So be sure to maintain these relationship, and not just reach out when you need something. Set clear goals from the onset, and communicate with your boss openly and objectively about any issues that may arise. I find that good managers and true leaders will always want to help you achieve success and exceed your goals.

Challenges
“Dealing with cultural differences can be tricky! Keep in mind that when working on a project in another country, you have to adapt the product, but you also need to keep it true to the brand.”

Mary’s majors: BA Spanish, Master of International Business
Internships during college: World Trade Center of Atlanta and Purchasing intern, Diaz Foods
Jobs held since graduating: Buyer & private label project manager, Diaz Foods and Sourcing Analyst, Starbucks
Ultimate goal: Lead an international assignment for Starbucks