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5 Questions with Don Quigley

Thursday, April 25, 2013   (0 Comments)
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Don Quigley is president of U.S. sales for Mondelēz International. He leads all direct-store-delivery retail and customer headquarter activities for the snacks and confectionery businesses. He previously served as president–consumer sales for the North American consumer sales organization at Kimberly-Clark Corporation. Quigley also has held senior sales positions at PepsiCo Inc. and E & J Gallo Winery.

You’ve been in the consumer goods and retail industry for more than 35 years. How have the roles of women changed?

The most significant change I have witnessed is the number of women who are now mid-level and senior-level managers.  In the early days of my career, women were primarily in sales rep roles; sadly very few were in management roles. Additionally, HR departments were small and lacking diversity strategies. Once the CEOs and HR leads decided that their respective workforces must reflect the general population, progress was made.

What business advantages have come with the increased presence of women on leadership teams in the industry?

The biggest advantage is diversity of thought. Women bring different perspectives ―as working moms, as consumers, as leaders, to challenge norms, speak to gender differences, etc. On my leadership team I have Val Oswalt who is one of four area vice presidents reporting into me. At the regional vice president/corporate vice president/director levels we have a number of other talented female team members who bring great value to our organization.  Additionally we are recruiting the top business undergrads at schools across the country to build our pipeline of female talent and build our bench strength.

Can you think of an instance when having a woman on a team influenced the decision-making process?

I have been most influenced by our Mondelēz Women's Sales Council. I am inspired by their individual and collective energy! The vision of the Women’s Sales Council is to "attract, develop, retain and advance women at Mondelēz International.” They have identified initiatives that drive business results and they are tracking those results. This is one of the first instances when an inter-company council has set business objectives as part of its charter and tracked results.

There has been a great deal of discussion recently on whether the onus is more on women or corporations to change if more women are going to reach and succeed in senior executive positions. What are your thoughts?

I agree that the responsibility for women to grow their careers and achieve their professional aspirations is the joint responsibility of the company and the individual. Accountability on the company's side can be further embraced by senior executives serving as sponsors and mentors for top-talent women. We must also be willing to stretch diverse top talent and provide an environment where failure is a learning and broadening process while on the journey of accumulating invaluable experiences.

What advice, from the male perspective, would you give emerging female leaders in terms of preparing for and positioning themselves for advancement?

My advice is to clearly articulate your professional aspirations. Additionally it's important to be open and transparent about where and what your business acumen gaps are. Nobody knows everything and both men and women need to be open about where they need to learn and acquire knowledge. This is where sponsors and mentors can play an important role in the development process. Don't be afraid to show your vulnerability ― ask for assistance and seek knowledge!

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