Meet One of the Women Behind Diet Coke

This is a sponsored feature. All opinions are 100% our own.

Tammy Lee is the Associate Brand Manager for Diet Coke—and if you think that’s out of a Mad Men episode, you’re not too far off. Her eyes see everything with the word “Diet Coke” on it before it hits consumers—from social media ads to the cans you crack open. Now, the UC Berkeley alumna is sharing exactly how she landed at Diet Coke—and how you can too. 

What was your major in college?

I studied in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Globalization and Consumer Behavior.

Where did you go to school? 

UC Berkeley

What relevant internships did you hold in college?

As a way to capture breadth of experience and while I was still figuring out what my interests were, I interned in two very different roles in two very different places: IT Communications at EA Games and Marketing at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management.

What is your exact position with Diet Coke? 

I am the Associate Brand Manager on Diet Coke and, being on the brand team, I am responsible for driving the Diet Coke business forward (includes the day-to-day, full year, and planning for years ahead). I put my eyes on anything that says the word “Diet Coke” on it… whether that is advertising you see on TV, to social media posts, to the distribution of cans and bottles you see in stores. We are champions of our Diet Coke consumer – no one should know our drinkers better than we do – and we make sure that folds into our strategy, products, distribution, and all consumer communications.

So it sounds like you’re involved in a lot of large-scale, overall branding. What does that mean your day to day looks like?

Every day is so different and that’s what makes it so fun! Because we work with so many team members across the organization (from consumer insights to commercialization to PR to design… just to name a few) and external partners, the work is always changing and developing. I am in a lot of meetings with various teams and working across multiple initiatives at once. When I’m not in meetings, you can find me either catching up on email, analyzing consumer research, or prepping content for conversations with senior leaders.

Post-college, what was the ladder to your current position with Diet Coke?

I had the fortune of taking a marketing class in college and realizing that I absolutely loved it. My first job out of college was at Safeway-Albertsons working on their Consumer Brands (private label) team as a Brand Marketing Analyst. This was an amazing introduction into marketing and brand management as it really demonstrated to me how holistic marketing is: it can span from consumer insight to product innovation and requires collaboration with supply chain, finance, merchandising, shopper marketing, and much more. I knew this was just the tip of the iceberg, and that’s when I decided I wanted to be working on a brand as big and recognizable as Diet Coke. However, to get there, I knew I had to broaden out my experience, so I jumped into the retail side of the business to expand my marketing expertise in a new, but relevant industry. I became the Marketing Manager on Amazon Grocery, overseeing categories across .com and Prime Pantry. Here, I really learned the complexity of retail, pricing, competitive landscape, product selection, just to name a few… and got exposure to the e-commerce environment, something all brands are paying attention to now. The skills and lessons I learned were exactly what I was aiming for, but in order to be a marketing expert, I felt that I needed to really nail down marketing fundamentals to succeed in a brand management role. So I transitioned to then get my MBA at The Fuqua School of Business. With a concentration in both Marketing and Management, I landed an internship in Brand at The Coca-Cola Company, and the rest is history!

What's your advice for a college woman who is interested in a position exactly like yours?

In order to succeed in marketing, you have to know how to market yourself as well. That means demonstrating that you have the skills and the curiosity that CPG and brand teams are looking for. Take classes in finance and understand how a P&L works, learn how to use Excel and general analysis, and practice succinct business writing. Go to marketing conferences and talk to people, so that when you do apply for a job or start reaching out to network, you already speak our language. Many of these brand jobs are possible to get right out of undergrad! Try to make sure you make your interests known to those inside the organization before you even apply.

What's your advice for someone who wants to work specifically at Diet Coke? What overarching qualities does the company look for in its candidates?

Working on Diet Coke can span across many types of job functions, but it is absolutely key that you show an interest in consumer facing goods. Demonstration of an understanding in analytics and business, strong communication skills, and interpersonal skills are all hugely important for me on a daily basis. Learn about what is happening in the beverage industry, pay attention to what Diet Coke has been doing in recent years, and make sure you know your 4Ps!

Check out some of her most recent Diet Coke work here!