Mellisa Allen, an on-the-rise leader at Tervis, one of the fastest growing companies in the Sarasota-Bradenton region, has built her career on an ability to see bigger things in smaller opportunities.
A good example of that is her current position at Tervis, a Venice-based drinkware firm, where she oversees a 90-employee technology department. Her unit includes IT, ecommerce and customer experience, a key revenue stream. The position only came about because she did so well with her first role at Tervis, when she was ecommerce marketing manager for six years.
The ecommerce position wasn’t something Allen had in mind when she applied for a job at Terivs in 2008. She worked in marketing and branding for companies in Chicago, on accounts that included Allstate and Disney Parks. She sought a new a job after relocating to Sarasota with her husband.
Allen says she didn’t know much about the intricacies of ecommerce when she spoke with the HR department at Tervis. “It wasn’t something I had done before,” says Allen, “but there were some parallels to other work I had done.”
So Allen took a chance. She thought the Tervis brand was fun and engaging and the company was connected to the local community, so Allen says it really wasn’t much of a risk. Says Allen: “Our brand lends itself really well to customer loyalty.”
Allen even being in marketing and branding at all is something of a switch. She intended to study physical therapy at Marquette University but got the idea for marketing after she saw the 2000 movie “What Women Want,” a romantic comedy with Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt. One of the themes of the film was how marketing influences attitudes and what people buy. “Something in that movie,” says Allen, “completely spoke to me.”
— Mark Gordon
City of residence: Lakewood Ranch
Twitter handle: @chicasota
Birthplace: La Crosse, Wis.
Years on the Gulf Coast: Seven years.
Marital status/children: Married to Patrick Allen with our spirited 3-year-old son, Jack, and another baby due Thanksgiving.
Alma mater: Marquette University.
Best place to network: Vendor events, you immediately know you have something in common with others attending.
Coolest business experience: A very unexpected and seemingly daunting opportunity was presented to me last summer at Tervis. It was one of those opportunities that could easily be interpreted as a great risk. Accepting it was the hardest part, as it would result in a major shift in my position that I adored, and also have an indirect effect on my family.
A year later, it has undoubtedly been the most challenging, but equally rewarding professional experience because it deepened my understanding of our overall business, burst me from the bubble I had been in and most importantly rooted new appreciation for all the people and their roles needed to propel our business forward.
The most important business lesson I’ve learned: Embrace your instincts, validate with data.
One website that makes your job easier: TedTalks
One community group you’re most involved with: I am proud to sit on the Board for Children’s Guardian Fund, such a critical organization that focuses on enriching the lives of children less fortunate.
Favorite off-hours activity: Biking to breakfast with my husband and son on Saturday mornings.
Two people, dead or alive, you’d like to have dinner with: IBM President and CEO Ginni Rometty and Guy Kawasaki, former chief evangelist of Apple.
Best award you ever received: As a freshman in high school, I received the Up-and-Coming award for our Varsity track team. The words “up-and-coming” had a lasting impact, a reminder to always push further, there is more to be realized.
Most adventurous thing you’ve ever done: Cliff diving in Jamaica.
What’s at the top of your bucket list: Running in all 50 states.
What new skill would you like to learn: Personally, sewing. Professionally, intermediate accounting.
Who would play you in a movie about your life: Rachel McAdams
If I had a magic wand I’d: Turn all Bears fans into Packers fans