Tell us about your career journey- where and when did you start work? How did you end up where you are today?
My first job out of school was as an Account Executive with a company that sold printed circuit boards to the automotive industry. It’s a long story that we don’t have time for here; I didn’t even know what a printed circuit board was!
I moved to Atlanta for a job doing the same thing for the largest competitor of the company I worked for. When I got there, they asked me to come to meet with them a week before I was to start. Things had changed. My soon-to-be boss told me that they couldn’t have a “lady” do this job because “all” of the engineers with whom I’d be dealing with were male, and “…here in the south, honey, we often entertain male buyers at certain establishments where you can’t go”. But it was going to be ok. They’d give me another job — managing the “customer service ladies.” I was stuck. I needed a job, but the whole thing just felt bad. I trusted my gut instinct and walked.
I needed a job. I got one working for Pitney Bowes selling copiers. I had to make tons of cold calls and it was almost straight commission. There are many things I am, but I’m not a sales person — I can’t close a deal to save my life.
I have so much respect for people who can do that and enjoy it. I hated it. A few months later I got a job as the head of marketing for a women’s clothing manufacturer. I had tried to sell them a copier. I loved my job and was there for seven years.
Through that job, I met someone that had just launched a dot-com Startup doing b2b online auctions for designer clothing to the “Secondary Market”. The goal was to step between the manufacturer, and the retailer to make them bid for the goods. This was in the 90s before eBay was even public—we were a bit ahead of our time. Things caught up and the company ultimately got bought by Amazon, but after I had moved on.
I got recruited from that company by the tech vendor that was doing our build out. They were unique in the dot-com space because they merged tech development and marketing into one company that could do your dot com strategy, build it and then promote it. I was hired into a regional marketing role which ultimately kind of turned out to be sales. Again. I was asked to be the lead on trying to acquire some business from what was then called “old economy” companies.
My first and the only big sale was for a million dollars to a company that needed a strategy for how to aggregate their various websites into a single online brand presence. It was called UPS.
UPS had started up a dot com incubator to leverage the company’s IP,, infrastructure and other assets to do dot -com businesses with the intent of spinning them off. They needed people that knew the start-up space and could navigate the venture capital community. When they asked me if I was interested, I laughed.
I told them yes, the job was interesting, but I really didn’t fit the culture. They wore suits to work—I wore jeans. They didn’t mix alcohol with business—we had beer in the fridge at our office for the developers. But, I bought a brown suit to interview in –and joined ups in April of 2000 as the VP of market development for UPS e-Ventures.
About a year after I got here, the dot com bubble burst and I worried that I was out of a job as UPS dismantled e-Ventures.
I got put on my first “special assignment” to what was then called Service Parts Logistics, helping develop returns offering for tech products. This was 2001—UPS had just bought Mailboxes, Etc. I had an idea that maybe we could use those stores for people to drop off returns.
I set off to talk to the person heading up that team.
Literally, by the end of that day, I was told I had a new job. I was going to help figure out what we were going to do with this network of 4000 retail locations we had just bought! I led the market testing and subsequent rebranding to The UPS Store in 2003.
In 2005, I was selected to go on UPS Community Internship and was sent to McAllen TX for a month. We worked in the community—we built houses, taught interview skills to teenagers to help them prepare for getting a job, and learned about all the problems people in this community were facing. The high school graduation rate in McAllen was 30%. Not the drop- out rate, the graduation rate.
I met a family that lived in the direst circumstances –things I had never even imagined. I got exposed to situations I didn’t see in my life and started to understand the things people in this community were dealing with.
We were there during spring break—the four school-age girls in the family had no food—their only regular meal each day was the school lunch they got. I took them for their first ever meal in a restaurant. We went to Chili’s. It completely overwhelmed them.
That experience changed me. As the saying goes, I got woke. I’d never seen people who had the problems these people did. My problems were suddenly so unimportant, and truly not problems. I sent money to that family and to United Way in that area for many years.
I came back from McAllen and decided that I wanted to work in The UPS foundation so I could have a job where I made a difference with the work I did. It took me five years, a bunch of bugging people, and a couple of stops in other marketing jobs along the way to get there, but in 2009, I proudly became the Director of Corporate Relations for The UPS Foundation.
The plan was for me to 1) be the first marketing person in the foundation and look at things through a marketing lens to help build brand equity for UPS, 2) oversee all the communications for the foundation and 3) to manage the diversity organizations we supported.
The plan was not for me to have the United Way Campaign. Before Day One on that job, I had only limited knowledge of what United Way really did. I knew that once a year, we were asked to give. I did so, I did so at the right leadership level and I did it because we were supposed to. But I rapidly began to understand the value of, and impact created by United Way. Then one morning in 2015 as I was driving to work, United Way’s CEO, called me to ask if I would consider becoming the Chief Marketing Officer at United Way. I wasn’t looking for a job, but the idea was appealing–using what I did as a marketer for a bigger purpose. So in October of 2015, I bid UPS a fond farewell and joined United Way.