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5 Questions with Donna Sanker

Wednesday, January 22, 2014   (1 Comments)
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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Donna Sanker is vice president of marketing for BP’s West Coast retail business, overseeing all advertising, marketing, branding, category management, merchandising, supply chain and public relations for the ampm brand across the West Coast and for the ARCO brand in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. Sanker joined BP in 1996 and has held various marketing and operations positions during her career. She earned her bachelor’s degree from University of Pennsylvania and her master’s degree from University of Southern California.

Historically, the convenience/petroleum industry has been a male-dominated retail segment. How is that changing?

I am not familiar with industry statistics, but I can tell you that BP’s West Coast retail marketing organization is 50 percent female. This is especially important in the convenience retailing business, which has been challenged as an industry to appeal to more loyal female shoppers. Having women’s perspectives and experiences part of the decision-making process is critical. 

How does BP/ampm, in particular, attract and retain high-potential women?

We do this by creating a positive and fun work environment; providing flexible work schedule options, within certain parameters; rewarding and recognizing successful results and behaviors; and increasing scope and responsibility of roles, even if through special projects. Open dialogue and asking for help, particularly when there are issues and concerns, are also strongly encouraged.

Related: "5 Questions with Joy Chen"

How does having women in decision-making roles influence the way ampm goes to market?

We use a variety of resources when making decisions, including consumer research and insights, vendor research and insights, internal and external performance data, and feedback from our field sales team and franchisees. As a team, we challenge each other to be open-minded when considering what and how we bring new marketing programs, advertising and products to our stores.

How can women in leadership positions encourage the advancement of women "stuck” in the talent pipeline?

My recommendation is women take a proactive role managing their careers. At a minimum, they should meet with their supervisor and HR representative to express their career ambitions. It is also good to network with leaders in other parts of the business, or even with leaders in other companies where they are interested in pursuing opportunities. Scheduling a "meet and greet” or "get to know you” session is a great way to get their name and interests circulating in the organization. Last, I recommend they raise their hand and volunteer to work on a visible and cross-functional project. This can provide an opportunity to demonstrate their skill set with others outside their normal discipline.

Can you share with us a time when you experienced gender inequity in the workplace?

Early in my career, not at BP, I went to my boss and requested a raise. His response was that I did not have a wife and family to support and so he could not justify my request. I was already considering leaving this company for a career change and his response helped speed up the process.

Views expressed in signed blogs and user comments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and sponsors.

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Sarah Ciccarello, Clif Bar & Company says...
Posted Thursday, February 6, 2014
I know a few women who had the same experience when requesting a raise. Hopefully that behavior is a thing of the past, but I'm afraid it may still be an issue.

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