This is one story in a series highlighting our unique leaders at Aura for Women’s History Month, as told by the women who work every day to help people around the world connect and keep their memories alive.
On any given Saturday morning, you can find Gina Buchalter walking her beagle Brady along a quiet stretch of road in the peaceful and picturesque city of Portland, Maine.
Nowadays, her home in Portland serves as a tranquil backdrop to a fast-paced yet rewarding role as Aura’s VP of Retail Sales where her days are filled with numerous meetings and calls to Aura’s partners around the globe.
“We live on a very quiet, long road and we have three-and-a-half acres where me and Brady just go off and explore,” said Gina.
“I don’t have enough time for him during the week so it's good for us on Saturdays and it’s just so funny. He’s, like — free and he’s running. Imagine being that joyous!”
Gina considers it all to simply be a balancing act between life and work.
Her career in sales spans over 25 years and has, in itself, served as a balancing act of its own between managing relationships with retail partners and meeting the needs and key priorities for companies.
“You know, there’s always a challenge in sales and it’s the ‘give and take’ you have to have in your relationships with your partners,” said Gina. “It’s about doing things that are beneficial for your company while meeting their needs, and finding opportunities that make both of your businesses successful.”
It’s those relationships, nurtured over time, that have become a solid foundation for Gina’s career in the somewhat dynamic world of retail sales.
Gina manages a team that oversees all of Aura’s retail relationships in the U.S. and Canada. She and her team are working to launch Aura globally by first and foremost establishing retail relationships in the U.K.
Whether it’s mapping out units needed with the Product team or developing assets for retail displays and ads with the Design group, her work touches all parts of the business.
“Every day is really full,” she laughed. “It’s a lot, but it’s also nice to have a seat at the table where you’re having a dialogue with lots of different people all the time and you’re sharing ideas.”
By establishing trust not only between companies and retail partners but also as a leader over the years, Gina knew exactly what she could bring to the table at Aura.
“I came to Aura with this idea: ‘Do you want to be a builder or a repairman?’ and I really wanted to come and build something,” said Gina. “Aura has given me the opportunity to do that. They have put their trust in me to go out and get things done and I’ve just been running at top speed since I got here but it’s been paying off.”
Gina is definitely a builder. A big part of her job involves taking things that didn't really exist such as new relationships, products, concepts, or promotions, and growing and shaping them at the company.
“At other companies, you can stay at the party for as long as you want but are you growing anything? Are you building anything? Or are you making sure everything is working status quo?” said Gina.
Gina said that everything done at Aura brings a sense of newness to it. Whether it’s landing a new account, or getting a new display in a retail store, all of those things help build and grow Aura’s story.
She credits the company’s leadership team with being open to taking risks and listening to opinions that may differ from their own. She chalks it up to simply being a leader and knowing the importance of putting yourself out there, no matter the outcome. Persistence, she said, is the name of the game.
“You take a risk every day but the truth is you have to get out there,” said Gina. “The worst thing you’re ever going to hear is no.”
One of the best attributes a leader can have, she said, is the ability to enhance the people who work for them. Credibility and honesty are the most important qualities to have in a successful sales and management career. The gift of transparency also helps a great deal with keeping things realistic and knowing what can and can’t be delivered.
Her greatest inspiration on this 25-year-plus career journey has been her husband Kevin, her dynamic group of friends, her family, and of course, her beagle Brady. As a true New Jersey native, there’s one Bruce Springsteen lyric from the song “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” that also serves as inspiration for Gina that goes, “Someday we’ll look back on this and it will all seem funny.”
The Springsteen lyric coincides with the many risks taken and lessons learned over the years when balancing life, work, and everything that comes in between.
“I’d definitely have told my younger self that when things don’t work, maybe don’t take it so personally,” said Gina.
“You can’t have a win every day and so I’ve learned over the years to celebrate the small wins not just the big ones and I think if I had told my younger self that 20 years ago I would have saved myself a lot of headaches. Now the little wins are like, ‘Yeah! I’ll take it.’”