5 Questions with Joy Chen
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Posted by: Barbara Francella
Joy Chen is the CEO of Yes To Inc., which specializes
in natural skincare. In less than three years, Chen has catapulted the brand to
number two in the natural personal care category. Prior to Yes To Inc., Chen spent
16 years at the Clorox Company in senior leadership positions in marketing, sales
and operations. The San Francisco Business Times recognized her in 2012 as Most
Admired CEO of the Year and in 2013 as one of the Most Influential Women in Business.
Yes To Inc. has a diverse workforce and 60 percent
of the company’s leadership roles are held by women. How does this make the company
a diverse workforce brings diversity of thought, which ultimately translates to
better business performance. When I first joined the company in 2009, we had 80
percent men, 20 percent women, and it was a turnaround business situation. Fast
forward three years, we have grown the business four times, increased the value
of the company by five times, rose to become the number-two brand in the natural
personal care category and the number-one facial brand in naturals.
would not have happened if we did not have a diverse team. Diversity at Yes To is
beyond gender; it includes ethnicity, small vs. large company background, beauty
vs. non-beauty experience, to list a few. I have no doubt that the breadth of diversity
here has contributed to the way we approach problems and opportunities, which ultimately
led to our accelerated success in the marketplace.
You've created a work environment that allows employees
to be authentic, free to talk about their personal lives and what matters outside
of work. Why is this important?
As a CEO,
it is really important to me to create a trusting, safe culture that allows people
to be themselves and to share their thoughts freely about both their professional
and personal lives. I want us to be a family, not just a working unit. This type
of culture increases team engagement, which ultimately leads to better business
results. The challenge is how we maintain this type of culture as we get larger
as a company.
You have said your job is to "rally the team
and get them excited about where we're taking the company." What are some of
the ways you do that?
I have team
meetings frequently to get people charged up about our business results and remind
everyone of our company goals and priorities to keep us focused. More importantly,
we celebrate wins, both personal and professional, and recognize team members for
outstanding work and effort for enabling our business strategy.
I also installed
a bell in the office so any team member can ring it to share their wins with everyone
on the team at anytime. Celebrating wins is a key part of our culture. With accelerated
growth, I also can offer career growth. Most of our team likes to be challenged
and yearns for personal and professional growth, and when the company grows rapidly,
it opens up new opportunities for everyone.
working hard, we also play hard. We do a great deal of team events together ranging
from going to the San Francisco Giants’ opening day game to giving back to our community
by devoting our time to a good cause to a Vegas weekend. Whatever happens in Vegas
stays in Vegas!
How is Yes To Inc. nurturing its talent pipeline?
easy for an entrepreneurial company like Yes To to experience a tremendous amount
of growth. With accelerated double-digit growth year over year, we expanded
the team to support the growth. This has opened up a great deal of career growth
and advancement for the Yes To team. We also send our folks to training courses
as part of their development so they can build expertise in their work. Finally,
NEW has offered great development tools we have used to strengthen our team’s leadership
and other skill sets.
What traits do you look for in emerging leaders?
It is so
important for any emerging leader to be able to see the art of the possible and
communicate that vision. This usually means this leader won’t settle for the status
quo but looks to achieve an extraordinary outcome. While it is important for a leader
to set the right level of expectation for success, it is just as critical that he
or she also exhibits warmth and care for the team and the people around them. Above
all else, a great leader will always stay true to and never compromise their values. These three traits will shape a leader that others will want to follow.
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