5 Questions with Donna Sanker
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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.
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.
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"
having women in decision-making roles influence the way ampm goes
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
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.
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