The Glass-Breakers' Bios

The Glass-Breakers Bios

PINK features our 2009 Top Women in Business list, introducing the “Glass-Breakers,” women who, when they made it to the C-suite, left the door wide open for other women to follow – and continue to reach back to help promising female superstars. To tell these decidedly personal tales of women empowering women, we looked beyond their stellar résumé and individual achievements and asked 15 other women – each remarkable in her own right – to tell us straight from the heart how she was helped by our “Glass-Breaker”. The result is a single emotional portrait in 15 brush strokes of a uniquely feminine altruism as beautiful as it is inspiring.  PINK is proud to have Ernst & Young as the sponsor of this years Top 15 Women in Business!

Here’s more on the fabulous 15:

Shaunna F. Black,
 Vice President and Manager, Worldwide Facilities
Texas Instruments Inc.

Black is responsible for the design, construction and operation of TI facilities; environmental, safety and health programs; and real estate management. After a five-year teaching career, she joined TI in 1985 as a mechanical engineer. She supported manufacturing facilities construction, operations and maintenance for the company until 1994. In 1994 she became manager of worldwide environmental, safety and health, and in 1998, manager of worldwide facilities. From 2000 to 2005, Black was FAB manager for semiconductor manufacturing in one of TI’s premier wafer fabrication facilities. 

Black is a board member of the Metroplex Technology Business Council, the Dallas Women’s Foundation, the TI Foundation and the Executive Advisory Board for the UT-Austin Engineering College. She is an executive mentor for the Richardson ISD Executive Coaching Partnership, executive mentor for Menttium 100, an alumna of Leadership Texas and Leadership Richardson, and a frequent speaker at universities and international conferences. She was inducted into the Women in Science and Technology Hall of Fame by Women in Technology International for her contribution to the science and technology fields, and was inducted into the Circle of Honor by the Dallas Women’s Foundation and recognized as “A Woman of Achievement” by the Richardson YWCA. 

Black holds B.S. degrees in mechanical engineering from New Mexico State University and in education from the University of Texas in Austin. She has three children and resides in Richardson, Texas.

LaVerne H. Council, Corporate Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Johnson & Johnson 

Council is responsible for managing information technology and related systems for the $63.7 billion Johnson & Johnson worldwide enterprise. She is also a member of the Corporate Global Operating Committee.

Before joining Johnson & Johnson, Council was global vice president for information technology, global business solutions and development services for Dell Inc. In this capacity, she served as the information technology leader for EMEA, Asia, Global Software Services and IT Globalization with responsibility for optimizing the global project delivery capability. She developed and implemented business growth solutions, created a global development model, and managed the global quality process through the implementation of Capability Maturity Model strategies. During her tenure at Dell, she was also the global leader for infrastructure engineering, networking, security, enterprise application interfaces, and the global supply chain technology in Dell’s core operations.

Council holds a B.S. degree in business from Western Illinois University, graduating with highest honors. She also has an MBA in operations management from Illinois State University.

Barbara Cowden,ʉ۬Executive Vice President
, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

In addition to her EVP role, Cowden is a member of the board of directors of State Farm Life Insurance Co. and also serves as vice president and secretary of the State Farm Companies Foundation.

Cowden began her career with State Farm in 1980 as an agent in Sonora, Calif. She became an agency manager in Modesto, Calif., in 1983 and was appointed agency director in Rohnert Park, Calif., in 1987. She was named executive assistant, agency, at corporate headquarters in 1990 and deputy regional vice president in the Dallas office in 1991. She became regional vice president in the Lincoln, Neb., office in 1996 and returned to corporate headquarters in 1998 as senior vice president. She assumed her current position in 2001.

Cowden received her bachelor’s degree from California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, and her master’s degree from San Jose State University. She holds the Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designation and serves on the boards of the Women’s Museum in Dallas and the National Council on Economic Education, as well as the National Council of La Raza Corporate Board of Advisors.

Julie Gilbert
, CEO and Founder, 
WOLF Means Business

At the time of PINK’s Top Women in Business feature, Gilbert left her management role at Best Buy Co. to expand the Women’s Leadership Forum (WOLF), the landmark program she founded at Best Buy. Her current goal is to broaden the initiative’s reach to women around the world.

At Best Buy, Gilbert was senior vice president of retail training, learning and innovation, Winning with Women, and WOLF – roles in which she supervised the company’s strategy to increase its market share with women customers. Through her leadership in WOLF, she mobilized more than 20,000 female customers and employees to innovate each element of the business. With WOLF’s growing movement, Best Buy increased the number of women job applicants by 37 percent and reduced female employee turnover by 5.7 percent.

Previously, Gilbert served as vice president of customer centricity for Best Buy, where she led the creation, partnership and U.S. scale for Best Buy’s Magnolia Home Theater store-within-a-store concept, which is now the largest high-end home theater business in the world. In her time as director of alliance development, she created and implemented several strategic relationships with key partners, including Virgin Mobile, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Sony. Prior to her time at Best Buy, she worked for Deloitte & Touche in New York and Minneapolis, where she created several new businesses.

Gilbert is active with Safe Horizons, the nation’s largest nonprofit domestic and workplace violence organization; the International Museum of Women; and the Grameen Foundation, a nonprofit that helps women in the most poverty-stricken areas of the world. Gilbert earned her master’s degree in strategy and marketing and her bachelor’s degree in accounting, both with highest distinction, from the University of Minnesota. She is an adjunct professor at New York University and a certified public accountant in the state of Minnesota. An avid writer, Gilbert also authors a monthly blog for PINK and has been published internationally.

Béatrice Guillaume-Grabisch, â€¨President, Germany Business Unit
, The Coca-Cola Co.

Guillaume-Grabisch has more than 20 years of business experience in general management, as well as marketing and sales roles in a variety of leading consumer product companies. She started her career in brand management for Colgate-Palmolive in Paris before she moved to Beiersdorf in Hamburg, Germany, where she became international hair care manager. She then joined Johnson & Johnson in Duesseldorf, Germany, as a board member and sales and marketing director for the Cosmetics in Pharmacy business.

Most recently, Guillaume-Grabisch worked for L’Oreal Paris as managing director for the German business based in Duesseldorf, and as managing director for its Consumer Division based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Guillaume-Grabisch graduated from the ESSEC Business & Management School in France and holds an MBA from the University of Illinois.

Linda Heasley
, Chairman and CEO
, The Limited Stores Inc.

In her current role, Heasley presided over The Limited’s transition to a privately held company of Sun Capital Partners in August 2007. Prior to joining The Limited, she held a number of positions at Limited Brands Inc., both at the enterprise and brand levels. She has also held similar executive-level positions with Timberland and CVS.

Heasley earned an MBA from the John Anderson School of Management at UCLA and her B.A. from Radcliffe College, Harvard University.

Hala Moddelmog
, President and CEO
, Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Moddelmog, a former Top 500 executive and the first woman in corporate America to lead an international quick-service restaurant brand (Church’s Chicken), assumed her current role in 2006. Moddelmog’s business acumen, franchise- and brand-building success, and strategic perspective have been crucial as Susan G. Komen for the Cure extends its reach as the global leader in the breast cancer movement.

Her life experiences as a breast cancer survivor provide a powerful platform for effecting change and redesigning the breast cancer advocacy landscape with a focus on collaboration. Moddelmog is guiding Susan G. Komen for the Cure in building strong alliances with leading cancer organizations, such as the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Society for Cancer Research. Most importantly, she has pledged to build upon Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s investment of more than $1 billion in breast cancer research and community health programs by investing another $2 billion by 2017 to significantly reduce breast cancer incidence and mortality rates globally.

Moddelmog has dramatically strengthened the organization’s international presence, from leading a delegation of U.S. breast cancer advocates to the inaugural Susan G. Komen for the Cure Global Advocate Summit in Budapest, Hungary, which connected representatives from 30 countries, to launching a multicountry pilot program, the Initiative for Breast Cancer Awareness. Moddelmog also established the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Global Promise Fund in 2008, enlisting individual donors and corporations to invest in the organization’s work in countries including Brazil, Costa Rica, Ghana, Jordan, Mexico, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Russia, Hungary, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates.

During her tenure at Church’s Chicken, Moddelmog helped revitalize the brand, increased market share, realized record sales and profits, and drove international expansion. Her efforts strengthened the reputation of Church’s Chicken as an advocate of career opportunities and development, particularly for women and minorities. 

Moddelmog earned a B.A. in English from Georgia Southern University and an M.A. in journalism and mass communication from the University of Georgia. She has attended executive development programs at Harvard University, Northwestern University and the University of Georgia. Georgia Southern University granted her an honorary doctorate of humane letters degree in 2007. She is married to Steve Moddelmog and they have two children.

Karen B. Peetz, 
CEO of Issuer, Treasury, Broker-Dealer and Alternative Investment Services
, The Bank of New York Mellon

The operations under Peetz’s watch represent more than a third of the company’s revenue and include: global corporate trust, depositary receipts, shareowner services, global payments, cash management, trade services, broker-dealer clearing, collateral management and alternative investment services. Each of these businesses commands a leading global market position and ranks among the company’s most visible and best-performing franchises. These businesses serve clients worldwide, encompassing 10,000 employees located in 76 cities, 40 of which are outside of the United States.

Prior to this assignment, Peetz was the business manager responsible for global corporate trust, and she led the integration of the JPMorgan asset swap in 2006. She also managed the global payments business. Peetz joined The Bank of New York in 1998 to run the domestic corporate trust business.

Before joining The Bank of New York, Peetz spent 16 years with JPMorgan Chase, formerly Chase Manhattan and Chemical Bank. While at Chase, she had several sales and business management positions, including an assignment in London. After completing Chemical Bank’s credit training program, she was a commercial lending officer.

Peetz is a member of The Bank of New York Mellon’s Executive Committee, the organization’s most senior management body, which oversees day-to-day operations. She is the chairperson for the company’s Women’s Initiatives Network (WIN) and also serves on its Diversity Council. Peetz is an Executive Committee member and board member for the Brooklyn Academy of Music and is on the board of the United Way of New York City. She also serves on The Campaign for Penn State. She received a B.S. degree from Pennsylvania State University and an M.S. degree from Johns Hopkins University. 

Laurie N. Robinson, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, CBS Corp.

Robinson was recently promoted to her newly created role, where she reports directly to the executive vice president and general counsel of CBS Corp. Along with her legal responsibilities to more than 150 CBS radio and television stations, she assumes executive and managerial responsibilities in interfacing with legal divisions, facilitating training and overseeing the legal department’s special projects. Prior to joining the parent company, Robinson served as the assistant general counsel and director of training and development for CBS Broadcasting Inc.

Prior to joining CBS, Robinson worked at two New York City law firms, Seyfarth Shaw LLP and Epstein, Becker and Green P.C., where she represented management in labor and employment matters. Prior to joining the law firms, she worked as a legal intern in the labor management division of the National Football League in New York City.

Robinson received her B.A., magna cum laude, in 1994 at North Carolina Central University. Notably, she served as a campus leader in the coveted role of Miss North Carolina Central University, where she provided public service to the Durham, N.C., community, and served as a national ambassador to the university and the school’s 5,000 students. She attended Indiana University School of Law and received her J.D. in 1998.

Robinson is the founder and CEO of Corporate Counsel Women of Color, a nonprofit organization of over 2,000 women attorneys of color who work primarily for Top 1000 and Top 2000 legal departments. CCWC is designed to promote diversity in the legal profession. Robinson also mentors at-risk teens in New York City and founded and leads the legal ministry at her church in Harlem.

Elaine A. Sarsynski, Chairman and CEO, MassMutual International LLC;
 Executive Vice President, Retirement Services,
Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.

Since January 2008, Sarsynski has led MassMutual’s Retirement Services Division, which has been serving retirement plans for more than 60 years and provides a full range of products and services for corporate, union, nonprofit and governmental employers’ defined benefit, defined contribution and nonqualified deferred compensation plans. 

As chairman and CEO of MassMutual International LLC, Sarsynski is responsible for MassMutual’s international insurance operations, including subsidiaries in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Luxembourg and Chile. 

She joined MassMutual in 2005 as executive vice president and chief administrative officer of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., responsible for corporate services, human resource management, corporate communications, community relations and MassMutual’s strategy implementation. Prior to this role, she was a managing director at Babson Capital Management LLC, a MassMutual subsidiary, where she was responsible for the Portfolio Consulting Group.

Sarsynski founded Sun Consulting Group LLC in 1998, which offered consulting services to the real estate industry. Prior to 1998, she spent 17 years at Aetna, where she held senior management positions in bond investments underwriting private placements, financial guarantee underwriting focusing on public debt, preferred stock and commercial paper guarantees using the corporate debt rating of the company, portfolio management directing investment management of the American Reinsurance Portfolio, MBIA Portfolio and several Aetna general investment account portfolios totaling over $20 billion.

Sarsynski received a B.A. from Smith College in economics and her MBA from Columbia University in finance and accounting.

Ann Sherry, CEO, Carnival Australia

Sherry assumed the role of CEO in July 2007 following a diverse career in public affairs and banking. She has held senior bureaucratic roles in Australian state government in the areas of health, childcare, employment and women’s policy. Nationally, she led the Office of the Status of Women (1992–94). 

Recruited to Westpac in 1994, Sherry commenced a 13-year career with the organization. Her first eight years with Westpac spanned senior leadership roles within the HR and public affairs functions, as well as her role in key acquisitions (including Challenge Bank and Bank of Melbourne). 

Sherry’s success as CEO of the Bank of Melbourne led to her appointment as chief executive of the New Zealand and Pacific banking business. Sherry made a powerful impact in the New Zealand operation, resuscitating the brand in business and retail sectors, as well as turning staff morale around and delivering a real and highly visible Westpac presence in a tightly congested, diverse and participant-rich financial services market.

In addition to her business contributions, Sherry instituted some major cultural initiatives at Westpac: in particular, the paid maternity-leave policy and the focus on women in business, where Westpac became an industry leader. Each of these initiatives had a measurable impact on staff retention and the overall profitability of the business. She has also been instrumental in initiating and delivering an internationally renowned CSR program at Westpac. 

After training as a radiographer, she completed a B.A. degree, after which she took up various roles including, in the UK, her service as a prison social worker for adolescents and young adults. In Australia, she has worked in the trade union movement and, among other representative and advocacy work, was involved in policy issues related to women’s employment and affirmative action.

Laurie A. Tucker
, Senior Vice President, Corporate Marketing, 
FedEx Services

Tucker joined Federal Express in 1978 as a financial analyst. Since then, she has gained professional and management experience in product development, marketing, technology, sales, pricing, invoicing, finance, customer service, retail, advertising, operations and supply chain. Today she oversees the organization responsible for developing marketing strategy, product innovation and development, retail product and promotion, business alliances, sponsorship programs, customer experience management, brand management and advertising.

Recent accolades include the FedEx 2008 Super Bowl spot, “Stick,” which garnered a Primetime Emmy Award from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. This was the first FedEx ad to win an Emmy. “Stick” also received a Lion at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes, was voted one of the most popular spots in that year’s Super Bowl (according to a Super Bowl “Ad Meter” poll conducted by USA Today) and has received dozens of industry awards.

Tucker has instituted many growth programs for her employees, including a diversity council, mentoring program, and an awards and recognitions program, and she was the first recipient of the FedEx Services Diversity Champion Award. Also active in the community, she earned both her B.A. and MBA from the University of Memphis and serves on the University of Memphis Board of Visitors, as well as the Board of Directors of Iron Mountain Inc. She is the FedEx co-chair for the March of Dimes and has been a United Way Alexis de Tocqueville Society member since 1998.

Lisa M. Weber
, President, Individual Business
, MetLife Inc.

Weber oversees the retail business segments, Individual Business and Auto & Home, for MetLife, a global leader in insurance and other financial services. Combined operating earnings for both units have doubled under her watch to nearly $2 billion. In 2007, MetLife’s retail business client assets grew to over $212 billion and revenue to nearly $19 billion.

Since being named to the position in 2004, Weber has pursued a strategy emphasizing face-to-face advice that meets the critical protection and retirement income needs of over 7 million clients. She directs an efficient and diverse distribution system with over 11,000 affiliated advisers and 140,000 points of sale; oversees an annuity and life portfolio with offerings in every major market segment; and runs one of the largest client and producer insurance-based service operations in the U.S.

From 2001 to 2004, Weber served as MetLife’s senior executive vice president and chief administrative officer. In this position, she was responsible for MetLife’s worldwide brand and communications, human resources, corporate ethics and compliance, audit, corporate services, security and the company’s philanthropic efforts through MetLife Foundation. As executive vice president of human resources from 1998 to 2001, Weber was instrumental in shaping and implementing MetLife’s overall strategy and was the principal architect behind MetLife’s culture transformation, critical to MetLife’s 2000 conversion from a mutual to publicly-traded company.

Weber is a member of the boards of several MetLife subsidiaries, including MetLife Bank and MetLife Auto & Home, for which she serves as chair. She is a director of MetLife Foundation and a trustee of Northeast Region Boys & Girls Clubs of America. She holds a B.A. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

Amy Whitley, Vice President of Human Resources

During her 25-year UPS career, Whitley has held a variety of positions in Small Package Operations and Human Resources, as well as in nonpackage sectors of the business, including UPS Airline, UPS Capital and Supply Chain Solutions.

In her current position, she oversees succession planning, organizational training and development programs, safety and occupational health, workforce planning and diversity. She also is responsible for UPS’s global HR systems and HR technology solutions. Most recently, Whitley has led the effort to create the first Women’s Leadership Development Program at UPS, which unites women across UPS to network internally and also provides opportunities for business leadership and community volunteerism externally. 

Whitley is a member of the Human Resources Planning Society and currently serves as a board member on the Atlanta affiliate. In addition, she serves on the board of the Atlanta Women’s Network and the Siegel Institute Advisory Board. A New York native, she holds a bachelor of business administration degree in human resources from Pace University. She is married and has two children. 

Virginia M. Wilson, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Wyndham Worldwide Corp.

Wilson is responsible for establishing and implementing overall financial strategy, policy and controls for the company. In this capacity, she ensures the organization’s compliance with regulatory requirements regarding financial transparency and reporting, while overseeing the traditional finance areas of planning, treasury, tax, audit, payables and payroll. In addition, Wilson is responsible for Wyndham Worldwide strategic planning, information technology, mergers and acquisitions, investor relations and procurement. She brings more than 30 years of finance, accounting and auditing experience to her role at Wyndham Worldwide.

Prior to joining Wyndham Worldwide, Wilson served as executive vice president and chief accounting officer of Cendant Corp., where she was responsible for that company’s corporate, divisional and business unit controllership, as well as tax and internal audit, since 2003.

Formerly senior vice president and controller for MetLife Inc., she was instrumental in the successful initial public offering and demutualization of MetLife in 2000. During her tenure there, Wilson also led initiatives to ensure compliance with financial aspects of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and was responsible for corporate planning, external and management reporting, accounting and treasury operations, accounting policy, investment accounting and financial systems. She also supported the company’s mergers and acquisitions, investor relations and rating agency activities.

Prior to joining MetLife, Wilson served as senior vice president and controller for Transamerica Life Cos., where she was responsible for all aspects of financial reporting, accounting operations and accounts payable, among other duties. Wilson was formerly a partner with Deloitte & Touche in Los Angeles, where she served clients in varied industries such as banks, S&Ls, mortgage bankers and investment companies. She received her master’s and bachelor’s degrees in accounting from the University of Illinois-Urbana. She is a certified public accountant.

This article originally appeared in the Q2 2009 issue of PINK Magazine.

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