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In 1981 Jack Welch became General Electric’s youngest CEO at 46 years old. 20 years later at the same age Indra Nooyi became the CEO at PepsiCo after holding several leadership roles within Pepsi and Motorola. A little more than a decade after that, Daniel Schwartz became the CEO of Burger King at just 33 years old. How is it that some people are able to quickly climb the ranks early on in their career to become executive leaders at massive organizations?
We had a chance to sit down with one such rising star, Becky Frankiewicz, in front of a live audience of her colleagues to deconstruct her career and understand how she was able to attain leadership roles at companies like PepsiCo, eventually getting recruited to a President position in a 30,000 person public company, all while making time to raise a family of her own.
Learning How To Sell
Becky held a lot of titles throughout her career with stints in finance, consulting, marketing, product and more, but the work experience that contributed the most to her ability to navigate her career was her very first job as a field sales representative for Procter & Gamble.
‘We are all salespeople, you’re selling either something from your company or selling yourself and your capabilities every day.’
If you’re able to contribute directly to the bottom line of a company you immediately become indispensable, and the skills that you learn in sales are not only valuable for other types of positions, but can also be applied to almost any industry.
‘When making the move to consulting early on in my career, the fact that I had done sales and marketing inside P&G gave me instant credibility.’
Taking On Jobs Where Others Have Failed
While some people might shy away from opportunities where other capable people have failed, Becky saw this as a chance to challenge herself and get noticed. At various points throughout her career she was presented with jobs that felt too risky to everyone else, but Becky knew that this was the perfect time to try something completely different.
While working at PepsiCo there was a new opening to run sales for the Gatorade brand, a job with a massive marketing budget that everyone wanted. At the same time there was an opening for a sales role at a lesser known brand within Pepsi called Costco. Becky went to her mentor and asked him what she should do.
He said ‘Becky, there are five people that are as qualified as you for the Gatorade job and only you are uniquely qualified for the Costco Job. You can walk into something that’s already doing well and try to keep it going well, or you can have a shot at turning something completely around.’
After just one month at her new sales job at Costco, the CEO promoted Becky to Head of Global, running the business across 10 countries.
Finding Mentors That Can Guide You
Perhaps one of the most significant contributors to Becky’s success was the guidance and advice of mentors and experts that she was able to call on when faced with a difficult decision, like the decision to join Costco.
‘When you have to deliver, you better find people that are willing to coach you and develop you.’
This makes sense to most of us, but how do you actually attract someone that’s invested in your career and genuinely interested in helping out? Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and make sure you’re offering value in return.
‘In my experience, mentorship has to go two ways. If not, it won’t be sustained. In other words, if it’s only about me getting better, the other person is not going to be interested for too long. And so it’s a two way street, that is what makes it sustainable.’
Becky believes that it’s human nature to want to help others, so asking for help shouldn’t feel scary. If anything, it’s a great opportunity to build a relationship with someone new. The problem is that too many people treat mentorship as something transactional. Or worse, they may seek help from a mentor but then completely ignore their advice if it’s contrary to their existing beliefs.
‘You have to be willing to actually listen and take any kind of feedback you receive, because if you ask for it and then you’re closed to hearing it you’ll never get feedback from that person again.’
Becky’s career path wasn’t always exactly clear and often times the decision to change directions felt fraught with risks. However, it’s these very same risks that created the biggest opportunities for upward trajectory. Over time Becky simply learned how to effectively evaluate each move with the help of others to continue to level up at a faster pace than before.
For the full story watch this live interview with Becky Frankiewicz of ManpowerGroup North America.
June 7, 2019 at 10:41AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs