The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here

Front and Center: Yamaha National Accounts Manager, Shawna Newman

Shawna Newman

Immersed in music since she was a child, Newman grew up playing the piano and trumpet. Upon graduating college as a music major, Newman began a highly successful career at Yamaha.

Newman has since been promoted to a National Accounts Manager, where she is responsible for the Pro Audio and Combo division and Keyboard division sales.

Persevering through the economic downturn and any challenges that have come her way, Newman’s focused work ethic and drive continues to create success for Yamaha. Learn more below, and check out some of Newman’s work at Yamaha here.

WiMN: Tell us a little bit about your background. Where are you from, and how did you get started in the music business?

SN: I’m originally from Peoria, Illinois. I started in the music industry as an intern at Yamaha while I was a senior in college. After a tremendous eight month internship, I returned to Bradley University to complete my undergraduate degree. Following graduation, I had my choice of two opportunities at Yamaha and decided to work in the Pro Audio and Combo Division as a Product Specialist for the Accessories Department.

WiMN: You’re now the National Accounts Manager for Yamaha’s Pro Audio and Combo Divisions. What are some of your responsibilities? What is your favorite part of the job?

SN: I manage one of our National Accounts, Guitar Center Enterprise (GC) and am responsible for a rather large sum of Yamaha’s top line sales for our Pro Audio and Combo and Keyboard Divisions. To achieve the sales goals set for my account, I work with the category merchants at GC to establish and maintain the Yamaha product mix in their brick and mortar stores and online properties. Once the product mix is established, driving sell-through becomes the main objective. To drive sell-through, I work closely with a variety of GC’s teams from Inventory Planning to Visual Merchandising, Online Merchandising, Training and Local Marketing. The overall goal is to continue a long-standing and strong partnership with Guitar Center to achieve Yamaha’s sales and marketing initiatives while supporting Guitar Center’s own initiatives. The favorite part of my job is walking into a Guitar Center store and seeing a customer walk out the door with a Yamaha instrument, his or her face beaming with a smile from ear to ear. There’s simply nothing better than delivering great instruments to musicians so they can realize their dreams.

WiMN: Do you play an instrument yourself?

SN: Indeed! I primarily play guitar and sing these days, but my instrument studies started when I was 4 years old. My mother is a piano teacher, and she insisted that my three sisters and I take piano lessons until we were in eighth grade. In addition, she felt it was important we learn a second instrument. In third grade I started studying the trumpet from the pastor at our church. The trumpet proved to be my main focus through my adolescence and took me through college, where I majored in trumpet.

WiMN: Tell us about challenges you’ve faced in your career and how you overcame them.

SN: I was promoted to my current position in December of 2008 and started working with one of our largest accounts only to see sales plummet at an incredible rate due to the recession that hit at the exact time I took the job. Talk about a challenge! It has certainly been an uphill battle, but challenges are what stretch us the most. Organization, focus, and planning have been key to recovering and strengthening Yamaha’s business since 2008. Early on, one of my mentors taught me the importance of planning your work and working your plan. It’s amazing how few people and/or companies actually do this. I’ve found that by sticking to this simple tactic, tremendous results are achieved.

WiMN: If you weren’t in the music industry, what do you think you’d be doing?

SN: If I weren’t in the music industry, I would either be working for Edward Jones or Eli Lilly. I had opportunities with both companies out of college. What a blessing to be working in an industry I’m extremely passionate about. GC’s current marketing slogan states it well: “We help people make music.”

WiMN: Can you share your experience as a woman in the industry? Have there been challenges?

SN: There are times I’ve felt I’ve had to prove myself more than a male would in this industry. Sadly, the “good ole boy club” still exists, although it is diminishing more and more. It’s been important for me to state my limits in terms of what makes for appropriate business conversations. If you draw the line, most folks won’t cross it. My career has progressed in a male-dominated industry by standing strong, working hard, staying professional and delivering results.

WiMN: Do you have any advice for young women aspiring to enter your field of work?

SN: Absolutely! Regardless if you are male or female, anyone aspiring to work in the music industry should network, network, network! The music industry is small – the more folks you know and have a strong, working relationship with, the better your opportunities will be to enter our field. Don’t feel you need to race through college – I took an entire year off before graduating, and it was the best decision I made for my career. The connections I made both within Yamaha and with our dealer base set the stage for an incredible career. Without the internship, I wouldn’t be where I am today. For women, as stated earlier, stand strong, work hard, stay professional and know your business. Bottom line, if you deliver results the job is yours.

WiMN: What’s in store for you and Yamaha for the rest of 2013?

SN: Our new fiscal year kicks off on April 1. We are tasked with aggressive sales goals this year, which are backed by several great product launches planned for the year to support the sales expectations that Yamaha Corporation of Japan has set for the U.S. Market. The catch, however, is that music industry sales are heavily driven by discretionary spending. As a result, our success will also be reliant on the need for a strengthening economy.