Throughout the years, there have been countless people who have built their careers at DFA – on farms, in plants, in the field or in offices.
Jennifer Collins, recently named director of corporate and commercial marketing, found her way into DFA while employed by an outside vendor.
As a brand manager for Kansas City-based advertising agency Sullivan Higdon & Sink, Collins was introduced to dairy.
“The agency was selected to represent the Borden® brand, which is marketed by DFA. We became an extension of the DFA Borden team,” Collins says. “I actually worked from the DFA office two days a week, and was closely tied to consumer brands, marketing and corporate communications.”
Collins helped develop and launch the 2008 Friends of Elsie campaign, a marketing and advertising program that featured member-owners on their farms talking to consumers and encouraging them to be “Friends of Elsie,” the beloved Borden mascot. The campaign resulted in a more than 13 percent increase in core volume growth in that year’s test markets.
Collins was also pivotal in helping her then-agency grow their relationship with DFA to include representing DFA brand Cache Valley®. During that time, Collins was also strengthening her own relationship with DFA. When an opening on the consumer brands team at DFA became available, Collins decided it was time to make the move, joining DFA as an associate brand manager.
“I always wanted to be a part of something bigger,” she says. “DFA gave me that opportunity. I love working for dairy farmers. Over the years, I’ve visited a number of our member-owners’ farms and have met them face to face. I am inspired by the commitment they have for their land and animals. I am committed to working hard to ensure they can continue to do what they love and feed the world.”
In her first role at DFA, Collins was heavily involved with activating marketing plans. She was quickly promoted to senior associate brand manager, and took on more responsibility, including strategy development. Her role expanded from cheese brands to include butter and beverages before she was again promoted to brand manager.
As brand manager, Collins was responsible for brand strategy for cheese, butter and beverage brands, and oversaw brand reputation while providing focus and vision for the brands.
While working with the consumer brands team, Collins was involved with the launch of the “Savor the Good Stuff” campaign for Cache Valley, expanding food service business for Plugrá®, and overseeing in-store marketing for Borden Cheese. She also helped develop the domestic marketing campaign for Sport Shake in the New York and Florida markets, and an international marketing campaign in Haiti.
Often serving as project manager, helping teams from various departments work together on common projects, she also facilitated and activated programs and directed agency partners. Considering her start as an agency partner, Collins had come full-circle. She says her time with DFA has allowed her to focus on personal and professional development. “I’m always seeking to become a better version of myself. DFA supports that type of growth and development along our career paths. If you want to grow in this company, we find a place for you to make that happen.”
For Collins, the teams she has worked on at DFA have been paramount to her professional growth by teaching her the importance of collaboration. “I don’t feel like an employee; I feel like a part of a team,” she says. “We’re all in it together. Everyone is willing to dive in and get the work done, regardless of role or title. We constantly work together to determine how we can do things better tomorrow than we did today. I also appreciate that we’re all professionals, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We genuinely enjoy being together and working together.”
This includes leaders within DFA, whom Collins acknowledges for helping her navigate her career. “I’ve been fortunate to work with amazing leaders who have passed along opportunities to take on new responsibilities,” she says. “Now, I’m honored to be in a position where I can help support and grow the next generation of leaders within DFA. I’m looking forward to helping to develop people.”
In her new role on the corporate communications team, Collins says she is hopeful her experience in consumer brands will bring a different perspective, allowing her to help the various teams she works with identify and implement new approaches to challenges.
“I’m excited about helping to expand DFA’s global presence, and determining how we can not only deliver value to our members domestically, but also engage with the global consumer,” she says. “This is another opportunity DFA has given me to learn and grow professionally, and I’m beyond grateful for this next chapter of my DFA career.”
Recently, Collins' own leadership and commitment to her colleagues earned her recognition as a 2015 DFA Be More award winner. Earning several nominations for the award, her colleagues cited her dedication, enthusiasm, perserverance and positive attitude in the face of challenge among the reasons why she was deserving of the honor.
Collins, a Kansas City native, holds a bachelor’s degree from Park University and a master’s in business administration (MBA) from the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. Her husband of four years, Josh Collins, owns Big Rip Brewing Company in North Kansas City. She enjoys bike riding, racing in triathlons and spending time with their two dogs.