To celebrate the launch of Wonder Women in the USA, Giles and I are writing a series of blogs with excerpts from the stories of and interviews with some of our American Heroes featured in the book, as well as women who have progressed their careers working across the Atlantic.
Today, we’re featuring three of the amazing women who have crossed the Atlantic:
Edwina D Dunn OBE, is an entrepreneur in the field of data science and customer-centric business strategy. Edwina and her husband, Clive Humby, founded dunnhumby, the global leader in customer data science, which was central to the success of the Tesco Clubcard.
Edwina already had amazing success with dunnhumby in the UK through building the Tesco Clubcard loyalty programme, but never one to stand still, she thought:
“We could either be a big fish in a small pond and never grow, or find a way to get into a much bigger pond, like America.”
So her ambition to swim in a big pond took her across the Atlantic, and they worked out a strategy how to conquer then USA:
“Everybody told us it won’t work, you’re going to fail in America – everyone fails in America – but we didn’t fail.”
Then dunnhumby repeated their successful strategy globally:
“We went to American, then literally to every country around the world. We built a business from scratch, it grew to about £1billion in revenue and was hugely profitable, we built a team of the best people, people we liked and admired, it was win/win/win for our clients, partners and employees, customers loved the loyalty rewards, and we absolutely loved what we were doing.”
Sandy started her career in St Paul, Minnesota, USA, where she learned her marketing and innovation skills. When we asked her how she got into marketing, this was her response:
“As a South African of colour, marketing wasn’t presented as an option. You could be a teacher, lawyer, doctor or accountant. I did finance at university but hated it. Then I went through psychometric testing and was told – you need to be in advertising or marketing. This was when I decided to join 3M and was lucky enough to be sent to St Paul, Minnesota Innovation Centre for training.
So, I learned the 3M way of innovating, and was training on crafting successful business cases. There was a formula to it, and I LOVED IT.”
Sandy went on to become the youngest marketing manger of colour for 3M in South Africa, then progressed her amazingly successful marketing career at Colgate Palmolive, Revlon, Pepsico, Coca-Cola and Diageo.
Pat started her career in pharma sales as one of the first female reps for a small Swedish company that became part of Pharmacia, then Pfizer, where she was one of the first women to become a global brand marketing lead in big pharma.
When we asked her what she was most proud of, she said:
“In 2003, I relocated to New York after Pharmacia was acquired by Pfizer. I became the Global Brand Marketing Lead for Xalatan, an ophthalmic brand that is used to treat glaucoma. At that time, marketing was done in individual countries, so I had a fundamentally important remit to create a global brand and drive all the countries in the same direction with consistent core positioning and messaging.”
The brand went from $400 million to $2 billion over its lifecycle – and Pat led it a the time of its most rapid growth.
But there were many challenges along the way:
“When I became part of Pfizer in the USA I found myself back in a world where nearly all the other global leads were men, and Pfizer had a historical reputation for male dominance and arrogance. Fortunately, it’s different now as Pfizer have worked hard to build organisational diversity and changed its ethos and culture.”
But it was Pat who had the expertise and experience to drive the Xalatan brand forward:
“I did what I had always done – head down, work hard, and build respect from within. I was able to achieve success within Pfizer, initially driving brand leadership, eventually becoming very integrated into the expanding organisation and becoming Global Vice President for Multichannel Marketing.”