5 Questions with Jami McDermid
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
"Women in sales were not feeling as connected as other
groups within MillerCoors."
Prior to becoming vice president, Central Region for
MillerCoors a little more than three years ago, Jami McDermid served as vice
president, commercial development for Coors Brewing. The consumer goods
executive founded JEP2 Solutions Consulting in 2004, after serving in vice
president positions at Diageo North America and Seagram Wine and Spirits Group.
Earlier in her career, McDermid held leadership roles at Tropicana and
MillerCoors is using social networking software to help
saleswomen feel part of cohesive team. How does this address the needs of
working women today?
Both male and female employees benefit from feeling
connected to others in their workplace, but based on findings from our Employee
Engagement Survey it was clear women in sales were not feeling as connected as
other groups within MillerCoors--male salespersons, for instance. Group
mentoring and the Triple Creek networking software created an avenue for these
women to tap into the connection they were missing.
Social networking software provides a means for women
working across geographies, time zones and work groups to connect on a personal
level. It also provides the opportunity for building professional relationships
and networks that might not otherwise exist. What is especially great about
social networking software for this group is that they are able to log on and
catch up with discussions, read posted documents or create posts of their own
any time of day or night and anywhere with an internet connection. The
realities of being a saleswoman at MillerCoors means you work unconventional
hours, long hours, nights and weekends, across varying geographies. Flexibility
is an important component of the networking program.
Also, work/life balance is a relevant issue for this group.
Any program we introduced not only had to help address achieving positive
work/life balance, but had to contribute to it as well! Once again, the
flexibility of social networking had a very positive impact, but the groups
also focused on work/life balance as discussion topic and were able to learn
tips from their mentors as well as each other.
What other challenges do large consumer products and retail
industry companies face in retaining women?
Women have more opportunities now than ever before.
Organizations must create a positive working environment for women. Otherwise
most women can, and will, find an organization that does. The options are out
there. Furthermore, if companies want to retain women they need to step up and
recognize the contributions of women by providing them with the flexibility,
equal pay and opportunities for growth that they deserve.
What did MillerCoors learn from its six-month Women of Sales
mentoring program, which has since been adopted by the company’s marketing and
integrated supply chain groups?
The opportunity to exchange open and honest dialogue about
the struggles and successes of other women has been extremely impactful to
those involved in the group mentoring program. Not only is it somewhat
comforting to discover that others have faced similar struggles, but it’s even
more powerful to learn they overcame these struggles to find success.
Interestingly, there has been one key theme that’s permeated each of the groups
-- career development and career pathing. That seems to demonstrate the
individuals involved in these mentoring groups are serious about growing their
careers at MillerCoors.
Why are women as eager to engage in these programs?
Although the original group was [formed for] females, and
there will continue to be women’s mentoring groups, other mixed-gender groups
have begun to form as well. I think people are eager to be a part of these
programs for multiple reasons. First, it’s part of our culture. At MillerCoors,
"thirst for learning” and "connection with people” are "Critical
Success Factors,” similar to core competencies. In fact, CSFs are so important
to our culture that we not only hire for them, we assess the CSFs during
performance reviews. We attract and retain people into our culture who have a
desire to be a part of these kinds of experiences. Secondly, people love this
company. It’s a fun place to work with great products and great people. People
recognize this and want to have a long, successful career at MillerCoors; they
seek out developmental opportunities such as the mentoring groups so that they
can continue to be a part of this great company and grow with it.
Who have been your own professional and personal mentors?
I have had many critical people in my life, my
"personal board of directors,” who have played a mentoring role for me. I
can trust them and get their thoughts as I approach difficult or challenging
situations. I wouldn’t have been as successful in my career without these
relationships. One of my very first mentors recently passed away, allowing me
to reflect on who he was as an individual and who I became because he was part
of my life. Mentors and coaches must be a significant part of your life to
fully explore and achieve your desired goals.