Celebrating International Women’s Day and the Women Who Inspire Us

In honor of International Women’s Day 2020 we are sharing the heartfelt words of wisdom from women who’ve inspired us most! International Women’s Day is “a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.” See who our CMO Club Board Members and women Chapter presidents are celebrating today and every day!

Kim Feil, CMO, CSO Aspire Healthy Energy Drinks
CMO Club Board Member
Chicago Chapter President

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, I am reminded first about all the extraordinary CMO women I’ve met over the time I’ve been involved in The CMO Club — women leading fresh marketing and strategy ideas from financial services, consumer goods, tech, telcomm, B2B services, early stage start ups and more.  Learning from their broad industry experiences as well as hearing the differences in these industries’ diversity and inclusion cultures has considerably influenced my perspective on marketing, business and diversity advocacy.

More specifically, the woman who has had the most impact on me is Brenda Barnes.  She was once the youngest woman executive at PepsiCo while at Frito-Lay, and I worked in her team there after graduate school. She then ascended to CEO and President of Pepsi-Cola North America, when she took a sabbatical to raise her children, at a time when women consciously avoided being cornered into the “mommy track.”  Katie Couric interviewed her on the Today Show and asked Brenda if she was letting career women down by doing this – instead, she shared her belief that women can “do it all” if they simply take charge to make their own choices.  In addition to serving on numerous public boards, she later returned as COO then CEO of Sara Lee, where she led a $1B turnaround project.  I was proud that she invited me to join her effort as CMO of the Sara Lee North American Food business.  Brenda was thoughtful and kind to every single person from her senior staff, to knowing the names of everyone on the cafeteria and sanitation teams.  Sadly, while she was Sara Lee CEO, she suffered a near-fatal stroke which ended her business career, and seven years later died after a second stroke.   Though Brenda lived a life devoted to a balanced personal and professional perspective, stroke tragically took her too young.  Brenda’s funeral was in January 2017, the same day as record-breaking Women’s Marches across the country.  I left the Chicago march to attend her wake, and whispered to her there that she would have been proud to see how she had left so much impact and carved our way.   After Brenda’s stroke and my mother’s triple bypass, I also became deeply involved in Go Red for Women, the American Heart Association’s campaign for women’s heart research where I’ve been active nine years.

As a final thought, I continue to be frustrated when I read or hear people talk about “female” executives rather than “women” executives.  Would anyone ever say, he’s a “male” executive?  Biological descriptions have zero relevance as we talk about women in the workplace or at home, and I hope we’ll have a day when we really no longer need to even reference gender.  To all the fabulous women leaders — and the equally fabulous men who support us — Happy International Women’s Day!

 

Trish Mueller, Co-Founder, Mueller Retail Consulting
CMO Club Board Member
Austin Chapter President

The woman I most admire is: Carol Tomé, retired CFO of the Home Depot.  Carol is extremely smart, business savvy, and her financial acumen is off the charts. She was instrumental in creating wealth for over 400,000 associates at the Home Depot through amazing financial management and strategic planning, and was also the founder & leader of the women’s group at the Home Depot “The Velvet Hammer‘s.” That group oversaw the development, training & networking for women in management at the Home Depot and created some amazing women leaders.  Carol set an amazing example and tone for the entire company with regard to the focus on leading and developing others, leaving an incredible wealth of talent at The Home Depot when she retired last August.  Lastly, Carol is incredibly philanthropic and has made many substantial contributions to organizations in need throughout the Atlanta community, which are a little-known due to Carol’s incredibly humble nature.  It was such an honor to work with and learn from this amazing woman!

 

Jo Ann Herold, CMO, The Honey Baked Ham Company
Atlanta Chapter President

It’s a great time to be a woman in business! So proud to celebrate the CMO Club Presidents during International Women’s Day.

I have been blessed to have some amazing women in my life. My mom, Marilyn Streiff, was a great role model who inspired me to work hard, have an awesome career, while also giving back to the community and serving others. Along the way, I have been so lucky to work alongside some pretty awesome women, including Linda van Rees, the CEO at The Honey Baked Ham Company. Linda has great passion for the Brand and consumer and leads a values-based organization.

I also loved working with Hala Moddelmog, CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber and formerly President of Arby’s, Inc.. Hala has been a great champion of women and has given so many people incredible opportunities. Further, I also greatly admire Kat Cole, COO and President of Focus Brands for being a bad ass female executive, while having a beautiful global perspective while balancing it all with her family and two young children.

 

Camila Casale, CMO, Claro Enterprise Solutions
South Florida Chapter President

I’ve been fortunate to be continually inspired by many incredibly strong and talented women in my life. From an early age, my stay-at-home mom has always encouraged me to push outside my comfort zone, to take risks and to always pursue my dreams.  Now, as a new mother myself, I have a new appreciation for what a wonderful role model she has been and continues to be. I’m grateful to the many mentors who have advised and guided me through the years to help me navigate any number of challenges. In particular, I want to thank Myrna Soto, who is currently Chief Operating Officer at Digital Hands, a cybersecurity company. Despite being an accomplished tech and venture capital executive and a true power player, Myrna has always found the time to listen and offer her insights and wisdom. Through her example, I’m inspired to pay it forward to the amazing young women who are now entering the field and just starting to fight their battles.

 

Lisa Bacus, Retired EVP & Global CMO, Cigna
Phoenix Chapter President

I feel fortunate to have had strong, independent, and smart women in my life.

Starting with my Mom, Grace Rojas, who taught me the importance of continuous learning. She led our family with grace, compassion and respect.  I’m also grateful for Norma Johnson, my high school English teacher, for helping me overcome my fear of public speaking and teaching me critical life skills early on. And all the talented and remarkable women who I’ve had the pleasure of working with throughout my corporate life — each of them demonstrating the power of diversity, determination and grit.

 

Carol Kruse

Carol Kruse, Board Director, Valvoline
CMO Club Board Member
Portland Chapter President

I have been fortunate to have many inspiring friends, family members and colleagues, however on International Women’s Day I thought about women who’ve inspired me, even though I didn’t personally know them. Women who fought to break down glass ceilings, or pushed for equality for women in areas that have been dominated by men.

As a woman who played sports, has been a life-long sports fan, and then became CMO of ESPN, I of course think of Billie Jean King, who was not only an extremely successful tennis player, but also a very strong advocate for gender equality.  Winning 39 Grand Slam titles, Billie Jean faced many years of huge disparities in pay and tournament prize purses, vs male players and men’s tennis tournaments. You might recall the famous “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match in 1973 when Billie Jean played and defeated Bobby Riggs, making a strong point about the caliber of women’s tennis.  Through the initial efforts of Billie Jean King, and many other women athletes, there was a spotlight on how men were being paid significantly more than women in professional sports, and progress towards equality was made.  And these public efforts helped to contribute to broader awareness of gender pay disparity, including in the business world.

At the 40th anniversary celebration of Title IX, I had the good fortune to hear Billie Jean King speak about how she fought for the passage of Title IX, a Federal law passed in 1972 that prohibits sex discrimination in all federally funded school programs, including admission, access to financial aid, class participation, housing and having equality in sports offered in secondary schools and universities.

Whether it is Billie Jean King, the US Women’s World Cup Soccer team with Megan Rapinoe in the forefront, or heroes like Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and so many other women, and men, who have pushed for greater gender equality, fighting for what is right is incredibly inspiring to me. And these women’s stories remind me that change only happens when there are leaders who speak-up, even when it isn’t easy and popular…and that it is more than just ok to be outspoken…it is necessary.

Thank you to Kim, Trish, Jo Ann, Camila, Lisa, and Carol for sharing your gracious stories about inspirational women and, in turn, how you all uplift those around you. We would also like to give a shoutout to all our amazing women CMO Club Members who move the needle forward, drive change, and inspire us daily.  Thank you for all you do!

Let’s spread the love! Share a woman that’s inspired you and why. #IWD2020 #EachforEqual