Baylor alumna wins rookie of the year at 3M
By Dan Henson
Sara Thompson, a 2011 Baylor alumna, knocked her first year with 3M clear out of the ballpark to win the Rookie of the Year title.
Thompson received this title at 3M’s National Sales Meeting in St. Paul, Minn., for her work as a territory manager. Thompson received the award March 27.
As a company, 3M provides hundreds of millions of people with innovations and inventions that have improved their day-to-day lives.
Thompson tried her hand at a range of majors during her time at Baylor. She began her collegiate career set on majoring in pre-med, but she soon added a second major in business.
She then changed her major to business with a concentration in health care, before ultimately deciding to major in professional selling.
“I just happened upon professional selling,” Thompson said. While on a tour of Baylor’s campus with her parents and brother, who was then a prospective student, she was introduced to the professional selling program.
Thompson’s parents told her that professional selling might be something that she would be good at, given the program’s hands-on curriculum.
The small and specialized classes, as well as how marketable her skill set would be in terms of getting a job, really appealed to her.
“I had the pleasure of having Sara in class as a student,” Dr. Andrea Dixon, associate professor and director of the Keller Center and Center for Professional Selling, said.
Dixon praised Thompson’s work ethic, saying that she is an absolutely rock-solid person and very much a team player.
The summer before her junior year, Thompson traveled all around the world doing volunteer work.
Thompson said that while she was volunteering, she came to the realization that she could make a bigger impact in the business world than she could in the clinical world.
The following summer, Thompson was given the opportunity to get her foot in the door of a company that serves and assists the clinical world in many ways. Thompson landed a job as an intern for 3M in Detroit, Mich.
During her internship, Thompson not only got to get a first hand look at the business world, through which she hoped to make an impact on the world’s medical needs, but she also gained the attention of leadership at 3M through her hard work and dedication to her job.
Thompson was offered a full-time position, which came as a shock to her. “I kind of freaked out,” Thompson said.
Thompson said that her desire was to work for 3M in the long-term, but she had just three days to decide whether she wanted to take the job and begin her professional career earlier than she had anticipated or turn the offer down to finish school.
“The biggest difficulty with a sales job was they did not know what territories would be open,” Thompson said.
She would have had no idea where she would have been placed if she accepted the position.
Thompson ultimately decided that she wanted to graduate from Baylor before entering the business world, which she did in 2011.
After graduating, Thompson accepted a position with 3M as a territory manager.
She currently works in the infection prevention division, which merged with another division in January, resulting in a larger territory for her to manage.
Working through this merger while still producing results provided upper-management with a case for Thompson to receive the rookie of the year title.
“Although I’m technically in sales, I really view myself as more of a consultant,” Thompson said.
She works with people in the clinical world in terms of talking to them to figure out what they need, as far as medical supplies and services, including education.
Thompson spent her first year at 3M jostling to be the best among her fellow 2012 rookies.
“I was really pleasantly surprised,” Thompson said.
She praised her experience in Baylor’s Professional Selling program for giving her the skills that she needed to be successful in her professional career.
“I felt really fortunate to have the skill base and the knowledge coming into the business,” Thompson said.
Thompson receiving this title is important to Baylor as well.
“It is a reminder for us to keep our focus on helping these students to be strong value creators,” Dixon said.