by Jo Ann Herold, Global Chief Marketing Officer at Interface
When I graduated with a degree in communication and journalism, I learned quickly that the academic environment had not fully prepared me for the real world. My first job was in Field Marketing at Shoney’s and Captain D’s. My role was to advise franchisees on how to grow their business. A big takeaway is that as a 21-year-old recent college graduate, the franchisees I worked with had a lot more to teach me. As a result, I was going to need to be responsible for my continued education.
So, what did I do?
The first thing I did was join AMA. www.AMA-Atlanta.com
I went to hear the AMA’s speakers and continuing education. The programs opened my eyes to how smart marketers think and gave me tools and insights on what is the latest thinking in business and marketing. I also went back to school later and earned an MBA.
Second, I discovered that most successful people have strong mentors. I have been so lucky to have several mentors. I want to give them a shout out and express my gratitude.
Nancy Gibson was my first mentor. She and I worked together for 10 years while at HoneyBaked Ham. Whip-smart, strategic, loyal to her people and irreverent are traits that I love about Nancy. She was formerly the Global Director of Diet Coke in the 90s. While working together @ HoneyBaked, she taught me about brand management and the importance of listening to the consumer. She is back at Coke and continues to be a rock star. She heads up global shopper marketing and serves to inspire others at Coke. www.coca-cola.com
I think about Nancy almost every day. I often write down WWND…code for What Would Nancy Do?! Her fun personality–coupled with her wit and wisdom always are in style.
Ken Bernhardt is another person for whom I would walk through fire for. For those who don’t Ken, you should. He has been involved in AMA for 30 years. He was President 20 years ago. He’s a Professor at Georgia State and has taught and mentored many people. Ken helped me grow as a young chief marketing officer at HoneyBaked. He introduced me to the Georgia State Marketing Roundtable and helped provide further education on what successful marketers do to grow sales and profits. Ken is always willing and able to lend a hand. Moreover, Ken recently won AMA’s Lifetime achievement recognition and helped raise over $100,000 for AMA scholarships. He helps Atlanta and marketers in so many ways.
I had the privilege to work with one of my mentors while I am at Arby’s. I reached out to her over a decade ago when a read an article about her in Nation’s Restaurant News. I cold called her and asked her to go to lunch. I was surprised when she said, “yes.” She didn’t say yes because she had lots of free time. At that time, she was CEO of Church’s Chicken. She said yes because she believed in the value of helping others grow. From there, Hala went on to become CEO of Susan G. Komen. Through the work at Arby’s, and its Foundation, we worked to End Childhood Hunger through Share our Strength’s No Kid Hungry initiative. I was lucky to work with Hala on a daily basis and help drive profitable sales for the iconic and beloved Arby’s brand.
Now, I have the wonderful opportunity to work for Interface. It is a company filled with purpose and truly “walks the walk.” I love the people, the culture and our products. www.interface.com
I feel fortunate to have such tremendous resources and mentors. Curiously, do you have a mentor? If so, who is it?