Let’s start by getting to know me. One of my passions is renovating houses; I like taking great finds and making them stronger or giving them fresh direction. This love has emerged as a strong theme in my career.
Being the first chief marketing officer at Walgreens excites me because I’m charged with re-inventing how consumers feel about our brand—one of the nation’s most iconic, trusted brands. After spending 26 years in consumer packaged goods working for Frito Lay and Sara Lee (to name two), I wanted to take on a new challenge—health and wellness. For me, it’s very rewarding to see legendary brands evolve through changing times.
I didn’t get to where I am today without overcoming obstacles. Everyone in business will encounter challenges. That’s why I believe mentoring is key. While women and minorities still struggle with advancing in the corporate world, times are changing. We’re seeing more diverse executives than ever before.
When it comes to mentors, my role model and cheerleader has to be my father. He worked his entire life at Procter & Gamble, and was a big supporter of diversity efforts. He recruited and helped develop women and people of color. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting women my father helped early in their careers. They tell me he was instrumental in coaching them through difficult times and helping them believe they could lead, and make a difference. It’s amazing to hear how much influence my father had on many talented leaders today. This validates the importance of mentoring and networking.
I always try to learn as much as I hope to teach. I’m the national secretary for the Network of Executive Women, an organization created to help women maximize their career opportunities. Networking is essential. No matter how smart you are or how hard you’re willing to work, you cannot live up to your full potential operating in total isolation. Through this organization, I’ve networked with people who demonstrate such passion for their career goals that you can’t walk away without being inspired.
The best advice I can offer to aspiring business leaders is be yourself. Try to approach a task with your own style and use your strengths as stepping stones. Also, don’t think you have to solve all challenges at once. One personal motto that I live by is, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way!”