written by: Alexander Melendez, Roaring Concepts Director
Leadership has little to do with title, position or experience. In my opinion, leadership is a mentality and an approach. In fact, if you are reading this then it is very likely that at one point or another, you too have been a leader. Don’t believe me? Keep reading.
My name is Alexander Melendez, but I go by Alex. I am a first generation, soon to be FIU graduate, and I am a leader. This is no surprise to my younger siblings, to the teams that I’ve managed throughout the years or to the AMAzing people I have worked with during my time at FIU. What might be surprising to learn, however, is that even when my title suggested otherwise [insert Assistant Store Manager, Merchandise Coordinator, AMA FIU President] I wasn’t always a leader. Sure, all those positions meant that different people reported to me and that I made big decisions– But I didn’t always lead. You see, I have learned that leaders consistently do three things: they shape, they create and they celebrate.
I am about to age myself here, but let’s take a trip down memory lane.
In 2008 I landed my very first job as a seasonal sales rep at Pacsun. It was my junior year in highschool (yeah, I just aged myself) and it was a big deal because it meant that I would have extra cash. The job also came with a discount, which is where I spent all that extra cash. Clearly, I was making excellent financial decisions from an early age lol. That seasonal job eventually turned into a part-time offer, which eventually turned into a supervisor position, and eventually an assistant store manager role. I was set to become a store manager when I realized that I wasn’t very happy. I was not actively participating in my life and I wanted more for myself. Leaders shape their future, they don’t just react to it. I left my job at Pacsun and began studying fashion merchandising.
In 2013 I graduated from fashion school and landed a merchandise coordinator role with Fossil Group. I was the youngest coordinator in the South East Region and was tasked with managing our wholesale portfolio in South Florida. My categories included fashion and luxury watches, jewelry and leather goods. During this time, I managed $6 Million worth of accounts, spanning several stores and a handful of brand specialists. Along with the brand specialists who reported to me, I had a team of merchandising assistants that I would travel to stores with. It was a serious job, but I was serious about doing it well. I stretched myself and as a result, I developed both personally and professionally. In that process, I fostered growth for the people on my team and I encouraged them to do the same for others. The time came for me to leave Fossil Group to pursue my marketing degree at FIU. There was one person in particular that I knew would make an excellent replacement. She was one of my first hires and had grown so much in the time I knew her. Leaders create other leaders, and I was proud to know that she would excel in the role.
I joined AMA FIU in Fall of 2015 as a Roaring Concepts team member. I was eager to learn more about working at an agency and jumped at the opportunity to become a Junior Account Executive. This is when I met Kelly Fung and Brian “Nycko” Perez, two individuals that would become significant influences in my life. By the end of the Spring 2016 semester, we had learned that the 3 of us were the new Directors of the agency. I left that summer for an internship with Procter & Gamble, but we stayed in close contact as we planned for an exciting Fall semester. When the opportunity to become Chapter President for Fall 2016 came my way, I turned to Kelly and Nycko for guidance. This was a huge sacrifice on their end because it meant that the agency would be managed by 2 people instead of 3. Not only did they urge me to take the position, they supported me throughout my entire presidency. Together, along with an incredible executive board (Sabrina, Claudia, Peterson, Lissy, Brian V, Dalim, Karley) we had an AMAzing semester. Leaders celebrate the success of others and they acknowledge that their own victories are often tied to the people around them.
So, I hope by now you’ve realized you have been a leader too at some point in your life. If not, shape your future and become one. Because the more leaders there are in the world, the more leaders we can create— And that’s something to celebrate.