President, Global Foodservice, PepsiCo
“Comfort is overrated. Not only is it overrated, but people should actively make themselves uncomfortable because that’s when you experience the most growth, personally and professionally. If you feel that pit in your stomach, and your legs get the urge to carry you in the opposite direction as fast as they can, you’re doing it right. Carry on.”
In your opinion, what qualities make a “Power Woman”?
A “Power Woman” realizes her impact by bringing out the best in others, helping the people around her succeed. Her power comes from the positive impact that she can have on others. She is constantly learning, listening, and staying true to her own values.
If you could have someone else’s job for a day, what would it be and why?
I’d like to be a winemaker in Napa Valley for a day. My first job out of college was in the wine business at Gallo. It would be inspiring to create something that brings so much enjoyment to so many people in such a breathtaking setting! This would be a pretty phenomenal experience that’s very different from the typical day to day job.
In what way do you work for women’s power and equality?
It’s true what they say…you can always tell who the strong women are, they are the ones building other women up. I try to live by this and inspire others to do so as well. I’m a former board member of the Network for Executive Women, and I currently serve as executive sponsor for Pinnacle, PepsiCo’s women’s leadership program. Pinnacle provides high-performing female sales associates with career development, leadership training, and mentoring.
Can you tell us a story about when you encountered a road block in the workplace and what you did about it?
The workplace is full of challenges, but they can all be tackled if you know what you believe in as a leader. The principles I operate under are: people first, results always, the customer is why, do it the right way, and have fun. I aim to put the right people in the right roles and then support them. Having the right people engaged, motivated, and empowered is what leads to results–in addition to knowing what success looks like and making sure there are plans in place to deliver on that. It’s also important to put customer needs first. As a leader, it’s important to unwaveringly model honesty and integrity. And, finally, we need to acknowledge how hard people work. We spend a lot of hours working, so it’s important foster an environment where people can enjoy themselves, smile, laugh, and enjoy their colleagues.
Have you seen changes in the political landscape for women over the past few years? If so, what are they?
Absolutely. We’re seeing a groundswell of mobilization and activism from women. With more than 120 women having won seats in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, it’s incredible to witness this new era for women in politics. Ultimately, it’s important for female leaders to be visible in every field. From NASDAQ CEO, Adena Friedman, to Kohl’s CEO, Michelle Gass, to Accenture’s new CEO, Julie Sweet, it’s also exciting to see women rising to the highest ranks in corporate America.
Is there a defining moment or experience that you lead you to where you are today?
The essential qualities of who my parents are truly shaped who I am today. My dad was quite enterprising, started a business out of necessity, then really built it. I credit him with my enterprising outlook. My mother was a nurse who always focused on caring for other people. When you combine an entrepreneurial spirit with caring for others, it can be powerful. It’s been very meaningful to me as I think of who I am, and the kind of business person that I aspire to be.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Your role as a leader is to serve. One of my mentors was a real model for servant leadership. This notion of putting others first stands out to me. Just because you’re at the top of the organization, doesn’t mean that people are serving you. As leaders, we should focus on serving the people who are on the frontline of our business so that they can do their jobs optimally and have meaningful careers as well.
There are studies that suggest women in the board room increases the bottom line and leads to healthier work environments. What can we do to support and enhance the presence of women in high profile positions?
We can spend a great deal of time talking about this, but the most important thing to do is to take action. Put women in the big jobs then give them the support to thrive. No one, man or woman, is usually 100 percent ready to take on a big role. Take risks on top talent that can develop and grow into a role and succeed.
What is your favorite book, fiction or nonfiction? Why?
I’ve given many friends and colleagues the book, “How Will You Measure Your Life?” by Clayton Christensen because it made such a big imprint on me. It’s about the broad impact and ripple effect you can have on so many people as a leader.
What do you most value in your friends?
What do you consider to be the most overrated virtue?
Comfort is overrated. Not only is it overrated, but people should actively make themselves uncomfortable because that’s when you experience the most growth, personally and professionally. If you feel that pit in your stomach, and your legs get the urge to carry you in the opposite direction as fast as they can, you’re doing it right. Carry on.