Magazine article Working Mother

Stirring the Pot

Magazine article Working Mother

Stirring the Pot

Article excerpt

Hey, Mom, know which cereal goes "Snap, crackle, pop"? What yogurt is day-at-the-spa good? And which macaroni is the cheesiest? Chances are you know, love and shop for Rice Krispies, Yoplait and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese-kitchen staples that help working moms everywhere get breakfast, lunch and dinner on the table. So as the person who hums "My bologna has a first name" while pushing the grocery cart, you might expect women to be major players in a business that produces much of what we serve our kids. Yet the food biz is still primarily a male-dominated field. Meet three women-Kellogg's nutritionist Celeste Clark, General Mills marketer Ann Simonds and Kraft commodities market specialist Marcia Glenn-who are proving that when it comes to food, mom experience is often just as critical as technical expertise. Here's how these three inspiring trailblazer moms are turning up the heat in the food industry.

CEREAL SIREN

KELLOGG'S Celeste Clark, PhD, 53, senior vice president of global nutrition and corporate affairs; mom of Cecily, 24, and Christopher, 20

In 1977, fresh out of graduate school, Celeste Clark joined Kellogg's as a nutritionist in the hope of helping her family. "I wanted to learn about diet and its relationship to health because several of my family members have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or type 2 diabetes," she says. Now she's helping people everywhere understand the importance of eating their oats and bran.

A taste for risk "We as women have to be willing to stretch some boundaries to move ahead. I was with Kellogg's for only six months when I was promoted. My new title was manager of nutrition communications, and it was my first step in moving beyond nutrition to learn other aspects of the business. Three years later, the president of what was then the U.S. food products division offered me a position as manager of print media, which was a nonnutrition-related assignment. He really took a chance on me, and I certainly took a risk going beyond nutrition into the marketing arena. But I learned how important risk-taking is by growing up in a large family with meager resources. You learned to do the best you could with what you had."

Dietary guidelines "In the mid-1980s, I was the lead nutritionist for the team working on the All-Bran cancer-prevention campaign. Back then, no one was mentioning cancer in advertising, let alone making a claim that linked diet to cancer risk. We met with people at the National Cancer Institute and developed an integrated marketing campaign to get the message out that eating right can help reduce cancer. Our ad was labeled a health message. It was a pivotal point for Kellogg's and the industry because as a result the government introduced health claim regulation."

Food for thought "I was the first AfricanAmerican woman named to the executive level at Kellogg's. I've learned to be what I call easy company. That doesn't mean I'm a pushover, but I have figured out how to be effective with different types of people. At times I was the only woman in work situations and once had a colleague talk about women as if I weren't even in the room. I asked, 'What about me?' and he said, Oh, you're one of us.'"

The spice of life "Thirty years ago when I first started working in corporate America, women all wore navy blue, black or gray. At some point you ask yourself, 'Can't I do something different and wear a little color?' My favorite suit is one my husband bought meit's fuchsia trimmed with black velvet!"

A sweet spot "Being a working mother is a juggling act-it's about setting priorities and making sacrifices. On any day the pendulum swings one way or the other, but you try to develop what I call your sweet spot. My kids always had lots of activities, and my son, Christopher, has competed in USTA tennis tournaments since he was nine. I've skipped company functions to catch his matches. The next day no one remembers I wasn't there, but my son remembers his mom yelling, 'Point by point! …

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