Easy access and sunny reflections
We’re south of O’Hare International Airport and about 30 minutes west of Chicago, so there’s easy access for our customers who visit, and great access to suburbs for our employees. We’re in a building that was a technical center for Keebler, one of our largest brands, which Kellogg bought in 2001. I love a sunny day in Chicagoland when you can see the clouds reflecting off the building’s all-glass facade as you drive up.
Mementos and office buddies
My office is in the right upper corner of the building as you’re facing it, or just above the “s” in Kellogg’s across the front. It’s not only where I work, it’s where I get creative energy and recharge. I get inspiration from the big pictures of our brands and customer events and my kids’ artwork. The three Keebler characters are my office buddies.
Running for a cause
I’d always said I’d never run unless I was being chased, but that all changed when I was let go from another company in 2009 and decided to run the Chicago Marathon. My family and I jokingly called this period my involuntary sabbatical. I pledged to spend time with them, volunteer in the community and take on challenges I hadn’t had time for, like the Chicago race.
I ran for Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, a Chicago charity that helps children escape abuse and neglect. The kids from Mercy cheered us on, and I got emotional because I realized I could actually have an impact on their lives. I raised about $4,000. I believe you do well for yourself when you do well for others. My husband framed some items from the race to remind me of that.
I gained a broader perspective on life during my time at Luther College, a small liberal arts college in Iowa. I studied theater in the U.K. one semester, which helped shape my belief that the world is smaller than we think. It gave me confidence to run parts of global businesses at a former company in Asia and Latin America. I’m vice chairwoman of the board of regents at Luther. The college pennant hangs proudly at our homecoming events.
Most important meal
When I joined the company four years ago, I held a series of meetings with team members to get their perspective on our priorities and strategies. I gained invaluable insight, so ever since I’ve held monthly “Breakfast with Wendy” meetings with employees from different departments.
Sometimes that’s a second breakfast for me. I’m an early riser, which allows time for a morning run, catching up on office emails and breakfast with my family before work.
Markers of excellence
As a cancer survivor, I’m happy for my past service on the Susan G. Komen board and also that the memento is a reproduction of a giant pink diamond. Another keepsake is from my leadership work with United Way in Chicago, and I received a service award from the Illinois Diversity Council. The three items remind me to continuously strive for excellence and push through hardships, whether in the office or my personal life.
You need to be uncomfortable to grow professionally and personally. I make it a point to take risks and challenge myself, sometimes to the extreme. During that sabbatical, I tried sky diving and traveled to Mexico, Ireland and Italy. I reflected that if I can survive running a marathon, jumping out of a plane and traveling to new places, I can build the muscle to do things I’ve never done before.
Make your own
I’ve always been about being bold, especially if you want to spark creativity among your teams. Kellogg bought the Bear Naked Custom Made business in 2007, and my division created an online, direct-to-consumer business with IBM’s Watson. Customers choose among granola ingredients and can even customize their canister. That’s my face on a can.
Entrepreneurship and cookies
I’m a Girl Scout alum and Kellogg is a proud bakery partner with the organization. I like that they not only teach young girls confidence, character and leadership, but also how to run a small business. For Christmas 2016, Sylvia Acevedo, chief executive of the Girl Scouts, gave me these badges and pins in a giant stocking.
At a former company, my group launched an innovation center in Mexico and took a painting class to create art for the walls. The president of the Latin American group, who reported to me, painted a woman that people said resembled me. When I joined Kellogg, he sent it to me with a congratulatory note. The bubble above her head is a whiteboard. Sometimes I write a funny message on it to encourage my group to focus on innovation.
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