ABOUT JILL AND HER EXPERIENCE IN TRADE PROMOTION MANAGEMENT:
Back in the mid 1990’s when most technology use was concentrated in the IT department, Jill worked in Leaf’s sales operations providing reporting and analysis for the sales team. Their only source of data was a mainframe computer—so getting information out was not an easy, or timely, task. Fortunately, she had an interest in learning the reporting language and picked it up rather quickly, which allowed her to create reports and learn volumes on trade spending analysis. Shortly thereafter, Internet based tools started to evolve and she had the opportunity to create one of the first online TPM solutions. With her business experience and technical ability, helping other companies better manage trade spending has been a perfect fit for her.
Jill believes the most challenging part of TPM is identifying all the pieces that make up the total spend. The complexity of promotional programs today and the massive quantity of data that results make it difficult to quantify and analyze trade spending on a customer and product basis. Pricing, promotional allowances, accruals, deductions—all of these pieces need to be accounted for in the trade spending equation. It takes the right combination of people and technology to create and understand the complete picture of trade spending.
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE GREATEST CHALLENGE OF BUSINESS LEADERS TODAY?
I think the biggest challenge for business leaders today is taking risks. The economic downturn in the past few years has left everyone with a sense of uncertainty about the future. People are afraid to lay it all on the line with bold decisions and fear the consequences of failure. Real innovation and growth cannot occur without taking some chances. It is important for leadership to let their organizations know that it is okay when the risk is worth the reward.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BUSINESS BOOK?
I have always liked The Featherbone Spirit by Charles E. “Gus” Whalen. I had the pleasure of hearing Gus speak at a conference years ago. That opportunity really personalized the message for me. The book has such an inspiring message about the importance of connections in our lives and the ability to find balance between your work and personal life.
WHAT STEPS SHOULD LEADERS TAKE TO ENCOURAGE CREATIVE THINKING AND/OR CHANGE WITHIN AN ORGANIZATION?
Leaders need to give people permission to take the time to just think! Technology and multi-tasking have eliminated uninterrupted thinking from most of our lives. We would all benefit from making time in our day to focus on one thing at a time without meetings, emails, texts and phone calls. This “flow state” will help us produce more creative solutions and better long-term strategies.
WHAT IS ONE CHARACTERISTIC THAT YOU BELIEVE EVERY LEADER SHOULD POSSESS?
The ability to coach and develop is an important skill for leadership. Strong leaders are not threatened by the capabilities of those around them and understand the role they play in developing the team to carry out their vision.