Hello Kat, could you share what a normal day in the life of a Product Assortment / Management Director looks like?
A day in my life is super exciting. It is a blend of working with the brand and marketing aspects of what we are trying to achieve in the market and breaking that down to what can we do with the product. Often my day involves being on the phone in the morning with different teams and colleagues in Gothenburg. To then being on the phone in the afternoon with the manufacturing teams in the plant. And somewhere in the middle meeting with the local business marketing and sales teams.
I also manage projects, this usually means working with colleagues from all different functions in the organization, an aspect of my job I really enjoy. I keep them motivated and engaged. At times it’s like being a crisis negotiator, when something is going wrong my job is to keep everyone focused. We all know projects never go as planned: machines break, there can be supply issues or any number of things. It’s never a dull day.
How do you view yourself as a leader?
Leadership is about having a vision, making tough decisions, being fair and above all, inspiring and motivating those you work with to give each day their very best. Being a project manager and working with different teams enables me to see the organization as a whole and at its intersection points. I feel it’s vital to be a proponent of change, that means not only finding the areas of improvement but being part of process of change.
In my opinion a great leader knows how to make work enjoyable. I believe that if people enjoy their job they are motivated and willing to give their best, every day.
In the projects that you manage what do you value most in the people you work with?
The people I work with are resilient. The US business has faced tough challenges but they continue to come back with new ideas and push the envelope. I really admire their strength and purpose in what they do.
Is there a project or initiative that you have been part of that really sticks out in your mind?
Definitely the start-up of the TENA brand in Brazil. We were entering a new market with all of its challenges and opportunities. As a technical person, I was able to step outside of my comfort zone and focus more on the market and the consumer experience. It was very exciting and rewarding.
You have been with Essity for a few years now, what is the best thing about working here?
With a matrix organization you are empowered to take on challenges and opportunities in your work. My career has definitely been an example of that. I have had opportunities to work in different regions and in different parts of the business from R&D to Innovation to Marketing, it’s been both professionally and personally fulfilling.
What keeps you inspired day to day?
I believe in the power of positivity; everything in life is a learning experience. You can choose whether something is good or bad… the way you view things has a tremendous impact on the outcome.
So, what do you do when you’re not working?
I teach martial arts!! I’m a black belt in judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. On top of that I’m a huge advocate for cancer research. I oversee several charity events in order to raise money for cancer research in Philadelphia
Wow, you are quite an active person! How do you find the work-life balance at Essity?
Work and life, I can merge a little when you are really into what you do. People at Essity are very passionate and committed. The company is very considerate in helping people find the right harmony between work and play. Finding this balance ensures everyone comes into work charged with energy and ideas.
You have had an interesting career journey with Essity so far, what advice would you give to yourself a year ago if you could?
Be brave! Embrace every opportunity even if you don’t think you have all the skills to do it. Life is too short to wait until you are perfect at something first time.
What advice would you give to anyone considering working with Essity?
It is a large company that feels like a family. Everyone is open and willing to help you succeed. You also get to work on brands that touch people’s life in the most fundamental way, which is really nice.
On a more light-hearted note, where is the most unusual place you have seen an Essity product and what was it?
The bathroom in a restaurant across from the colosseum in Rome. It was Tork toilet paper. I was just so shocked to see it there it was almost like the even the ancient Romans knew Tork is the best :)
Thank you for your time Kat, is there anything else you would like to add?
As you know I have been on a real journey with Essity. When I think about when I joined SCA/Essity 8 years ago so much has changed. I feel like the company has shifted to being anchored more in consumer insight and staying more connected to the markets we serve. We are constantly asking the question “what are their needs?” which drives innovation – which in turn challenges us to evolve as an organisation. And then of course there was the split of SCA: Hygiene and Forest Products to SCA and Essity in 2017. I feel like the split was definitely a positive move but change can present challenges, and by working together we can overcome the challenges with ease.
Based in - Philadelphia
Background (business) - TENA
Hidden talents - I’m a ninja
Role model - Oprah
Personal motto /quote - life starts at the edge of your comfort zone
Favorite movie - The Godfather- because it is about family
Favorite music - Techno—it gets me invigorated to start the day. I listen to it when I work out
If you could choose one Essity product to take on a desert island what would it be? And why? A Tork dispenser because I could use it to collect rain water. Water is essential for survival.