On the Rise: Hayley Milne
Marketing Manager | American Kenda Rubber | Age: 27
What was your first job in the industry?
I was first introduced to the tire industry when I was working as an account manager at Hanson Inc., a full-service digital agency based in Toledo, Ohio. I led the Cooper Tire account at Hanson where I was exposed to the ins and outs of the tire business and interacted with some incredibly bright minds in the industry. More recently, I moved to the brand side where I now currently work as marketing manager at Kenda Tire.
What attracted you to the industry?
I love this industry for its uniqueness. As a marketer, we love to solve challenges, and the tire industry has a lot of unique and complex challenges to reach the end consumer. We are one of the few industries that has the distribution channels of wholesale distributor to retailer to end consumer. The retailer's impact on the end consumer's purchase is massive, both from the pre-purchase to post-purchase standpoint. It is up to the retailer to offer suggestions of suitable tires should a consumer be unsure which tire(s) to buy or open to various options. We hope they offer Kenda as a well-respected choice. We try to drive this behavior through incentives with our Traction program, knowledge through educational opportunities, and loyalty for the brand after proving premium performance at a value price year over year. Assuming an end consumer purchases a Kenda tire we still rely on the retailer to properly install that tire so the customer gets the best possible ride and life of the tire. It is because of all of this -- so many touch points and dependencies throughout the purchase process, that we face challenges from a marketing perspective. It is the challenges that make my job exciting, fun and extremely rewarding.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
It's hard to pinpoint one specific instance, but I think one really challenging aspect of my career is interacting with so many people in a variety of fields; it's almost like you really have to learn to speak many different ‘languages.’ From talking technical with web developers to speaking more conceptually with visual graphic designers, I've had to learn over the years to adapt and adjust my conversation and approach to better connect with other people's specialty. Learning to do so has proven to streamline communication and produce better end results.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
Melanie Christian, vice president of client services and strategy, was my supervisor at Hanson Inc. and she made an incredibly positive impact on my life and my career. She taught me to push for the very best and never settle for less. She taught me how to prioritize and how to maximize time every single day. She also taught me how to find opportunities to improve and never stop looking for those chances to make an organization better and stronger. And best of all, she taught me that no matter your title or level of authority, there is always room for kindness.
What’s your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
Serving as project lead on the Cooper Tire website redesign was an accomplishment I am very proud of. I am really looking forward to more accomplishments to report within the coming years with Kenda.
How do you spend your work day?
I am responsible for all marketing efforts of our automotive department and overseeing the development of the Kenda brand as we continue to grow.
What keeps you up at night?
Either the dog stealing the covers or running through to-do lists in my head for the next day.
Early bird or night owl?
A night owl naturally, working on becoming an early bird.
Messy or neat freak?
Somewhere in between
Growing up, what was your dream job?
When I was a little kid I wanted to be a dolphin trainer. Going into middle school I was convinced I'd be a writer (which I still enjoy). By the time I got to college I had taken internships in the music industry and was set on working in brand management at a major record label post-college. Life is always full of surprises. Instead, I was offered an amazing opportunity to start my career at a full-service digital agency as an account manager which allowed me to dabble in many industries. This was my first introduction to the tire world.
Tell us about your family.
My parents are two very kind, honest, lovable people. My dad is a carpenter and my mom works in sales and marketing for a major manufacturer. I grew up in a very rural area in the country with my sister in a town of about 1,200 people. My sister and I both attended Bowling Green State University.
Describe your first car and what you loved most about it.
1996 Toyota Tacoma. Rusty old beater pickup that was black with yellow racing stripes. It had a tape player that I made my own custom mix tapes for. Totally wasn't what you'd picture a teenage girl driving, but that made it pretty bad*ss and I loved it for that.
What advice would you give your high school self?
You literally don't know anything yet.
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
Tina Fey. To me, she is the funniest woman in comedy. Humor is the zest of life!
Best way to spend a Saturday night:
Inside with drinks and snacks either attending or hosting a game night with friends.
What song do you crank up loud and always sing along to?
Just about any popular 90's country song. "Deeper Than The Holler" by Randy Travis, "It's A Great Day to Be Alive" by Travis Tritt, "In Spite of Ourselves" by John Prine, etc....The list is endless.
What habit do you wish you could break?
Biting my nails.
What’s your secret superpower?
Always remembering to floss.
What game show would you most likely win?
The Price is Right
If we gave you $1,000 and one hour, how would you spend the money?
Pay my bills (I know, so boring!)
How should the tire industry attract and retain more young talent?
I think it starts with recruitment and educating young talent of what the industry has to offer.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
I've learned that it's best never to predict of assume that far in advance.
What’s the biggest issue facing the tire industry?
Introducing e-commerce and more digital solutions will require the industry to pivot. We're already seeing some of that where dealers are relying more on profits coming from service offerings versus their product margins, when it wasn't always that way. Another challenge that has been around for a while but still exists is educating the consumer-base on the importance of tires and driving demand from the consumer-level.
If you could spend a day supporting a charity, what would you do?
I'd help the Alzheimer's Association raise funding.
If you could start a new career tomorrow, what would it be?
Maybe I'd give that dolphin trainer idea a whirl again.