In the past 30 years, you’ve been a senior executive at two of the world’s largest companies, Unilever and Kraft Foods, and lived in Singapore, Moscow, and London, not to mention the many cities across the USA. Now you’re an award-winning author and the CEO of your own consulting firm, Perry Yeatman Global Partners. How did you make all that happen?
I feel so blessed to be where I am. As you say, the opportunity to work for two Fortune 100 companies, and with some of the most prominent people of our time – from world leaders like Margaret Thatcher to iconic CEOs like Irene Rosenfeld to thought-leaders like Peter Drucker – have combined to create a career and life that has surpassed even the wildest dreams I had growing up in a small town outside Philadelphia. But while my career has in many ways been extraordinary, the biggest factors in determining my success were somewhat ordinary, namely: hard work, smart risk-taking, perseverance, great mentors and sponsors and, of course, a bit of luck. So, if my story is anything to go by, I would posit that even if you don’t consider yourself extraordinary, you can still have an amazing career and life, provided you are smart, focused and motivated.
What strategies have you learned about advancing your own career that you could share with other women?
I’ve been out on my own for the past five years and it’s been great – giving me the flexibility and autonomy to do some things with my family I never had time for while working at the upper echelons of major corporations. But, as my daughter looks to head off to school soon, I’m thinking it’s time for me to pivot again and take on a new challenge, something exciting and meaningful in a larger organization that really revs me up.
Why did you decide to join Aspire Ascend and the Executive Edge? How does Aspire Ascend support your career or personal goals?
One of the things women don’t do nearly as well as their male counterparts is make time to network and build professional relationships outside the office. So, when I moved back east and then stepped down from Kraft, I wanted to be sure I built and maintained relationships with smart, capable, interesting professional women in the DC area. Aspire Ascend is one of the ways I am able to do that. And, the investment has paid off - both personally and professionally.
What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
I was lucky to have been born curious. So, I am always seeking new insights – about myself, about business, about government and civil society and the world at large. I just love to learn. It’s one of the reasons that having the Kellogg School of Management as a client for the past several years has been so wonderful. I’ve had a chance to step back and “study” business as opposed to just doing it. It’s been enlightening. I never got my MBA. I applied and was ready to enroll when a work opportunity in London came up that I just couldn’t turn down. So, I deferred. But in the end, I never went. Now I know what I missed! I’m so grateful I got a second chance.