Welcome to the Forty Over 40 blog. Every week we spotlight one of our female disruptors and their thoughts on reinvention, mentorship and momentum…plus a peek into what makes them tick.
Our first Q & A is with Wendy Clark, President – Sparkling Brands and Strategic Marketing, Coca-Cola North America.
What was a pivotal moment of reinvention for you?
By definition marketing must evolve with its marketplace and consumers, so as a marketer I’d like to think that I’m constantly looking to evolve my thinking and approaches in-line with the markets we serve. To me, change is exciting and important. I’m not intimidated by what I don’t know. I’m intrigued and curious about it. One saying that my former boss would say often was “if you don’t like change, you’ll like irrelevance even less” — I think that about captures it.
Who has been a valuable mentor or sponsor?
So many mentors and counselors in my journey. At GSD&M, I learned from Roy Spence and Judy Trabulsi that humanity matters and that you don’t have to be smart at the cost of kind. You can (and must) be both. At the new AT&T I learned from our CEO, Ed Whitacre, that great leaders listen more than they talk. He was a man of few, choiceful words, but when he talked everyone listened. From Muhtar Kent, our CEO at Coca-Cola, I’ve learned that it’s important to manage the present AND invent the future. Successful leaders are deeply passionate today but not at the cost of creating tomorrow.
What is your biggest goal right now?
At work, to learn everything I can about Coca-Cola’s North America business, system, customers, partners and teams. And then to be useful and contributing to all of them.
At home, to raise bright, vibrant, curious children that want to do their part to make the world better.
How did you get your first job? How did you jump to your second job?
I like talking about my first job after college because it’s advice I offer to today’s grads. My first job was as a receptionist in an ad agency. I was convinced I wanted to be in advertising but right out of college I couldn’t get in without experience. So I found an opening for a receptionist at an ad agency and answered their phones and stocked their fridge with Cokes. I knew if I could just get in there I could prove myself, and within 6 months that’s what happened as I moved into the account team. The point is, never be above doing anything.
How do you unplug? How often do you unplug?
On the beach. Nothing like it. Waves, sand, sunrise, sunset. And exhale.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
Never believe your own press. The minute you do, you’ll stop trying as hard.
What is your secret indulgence?
Well, it’s not a secret. I eat literal volumes of Cadburys chocolate. Anyone who wants something typically shows up with Cadburys. And they pretty much get whatever they want.
You can follow Wendy on Twitter on @wnd and read her full #40over40 profile here: Wendy Clark