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    Executive Edge Member Spotlight: Perry Yeatman | CEO, Perry Yeatman Global Partners

    04/15/2018 4:37 PM | Rhiannon Collins (Administrator)


    Executive Edge 
    Member Spotlight

    An interview with Perry Yeatman
    CEO, Perry Yeatman Global Partners


    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?

    My top three pieces of advice would be:
    1. Know what you want and go for it. Don’t let anyone talk you out of it. It’s your life, so live it with no regrets for the things you didn’t try to achieve – personally and professionally. You may fail – I certainly did at times – but if you learn from those failures, you’ll be a better person and a better leader the next time. 
    2. While being clear on your destination, be flexible in how you get there. Careers unfold over time. Very few people take a straight path to the top.  So, while you need to know where you want to go, you also have to be open to opportunities that are moving in the right direction, even if not perfect.  Because in my experience there are very few “perfect” opportunities, especially while you are moving up the ladder.
    3. Forget balance - go for integration instead. As an ambitious career woman, I could argue there is never going to be a “great” time to add kids into the mix.  But, I would never have wanted to miss out on being a mom as my kids have truly been the greatest joys in my life.  So, plan to have it all but recognize you won’t have it all at the same time and you’ll have to make some tough choices at different points. And, when those decisions loom, don’t be swayed by guilt. Be smart about what you most want and advocate for that. As long as you don’t drop out of the work force altogether and you’re thoughtful and intentional about how you select what you do, you can find a meaningful way back in, even if you had to step back for a bit.         
    You exude confidence in your abilities and career path.  Where did you get this confidence?

    First, I have to say that there are plenty of things I still worry about and am insecure about.  But, my ability to succeed in my career is not one of them.  I built that confidence over the decades through experience.  I have routinely taken on some of the most challenging assignments and always found a way to deliver.  So, these days, there isn’t much that would scare me in terms of career moves.  That said, I also never forget: 1) that while I know a lot, there are always things I don’t know and 2) that you rarely achieve anything great alone. So, I always surround myself with excellent people - people who are different than I am - and I am never afraid to ask a question or ask for help.
     
    Where is your career heading? What will your next career challenge be?

    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.       



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