Leadership Lessons from the Top

April 2015

On April 15, 2015, Kellogg Executive Women's Network (KEWN) held "A Fireside Chat with Powerful Female Business Leaders" featuring two Kellogg alums from business-owning families, attended by 100 female alumni and MBA students.

Ann Drake'84 is CEO and Chairman of the major supply chain company, DSC Logistics, a company founded by her father in 1960, now with more than 2000 employees. Ann shared her winding career path that started with teaching high school English and running her own interior design business, before joining her father's business. She became its first EVP of Strategy and Culture and brought to the firm more teamwork, communication and change. In 2012, Drake was the first woman in 47 years to ever win the Distinguished Service Award from the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) . Wanting to improve the industry and give back, in 2013, she launched an initiative to advance women's leadership in the field. Achieving Women's Excellence in Supply Chain Operations, Management, and Education (AWESOME) is now a network of more than 400 senior-level female executives in logistics.

Wendy Carlson Nelson'99 serves as a director on the board of Carlson Companies founded by her grandfather, led in the second generation by her mother and stewarded in the third generation by her sister Diana'89, who serves as board Chairman. Brands within Carlson include Radisson and Park hotels, TGI Fridays and it employs 175,000 people worldwide. Wendy started her working life as a professional tennis player, then after Kellogg started in a male-dominated financial field. When her mother called her back to the family business, she first did stints in housekeeping at hotels to understand the nitty-gritty of hospitality. She claimed her grandfather as a role model who instilled in her "The Carlson Credo" when she was age 7:

Whatever you do, do with integrity
Wherever you go, go as a leader
Whomever you serve, serve with caring
Whatever you dream, dream with your all
And never ever give up.

Her advice to the group included "Seek coaches who will tell you what your weaknesses are" (something that is not always easy to find as an offspring of the owning family). She also suggested that women tend to over-analyze their skills when opportunities arise, and instead they should sometimes "just say 'YES' to opportunities and jump in."

Elise Krieger, a current Kellogg MBA student member of the Family Enterprise Club commented, "Ann and Wendy both exude a confidence learned through grit that guided smooth, strong family successions and propelled them in otherwise male-dominated industries. Their descriptions of acting courageously, living authentically, and striking balance was impressive. What great role models for us!"

Photo left to right: Linda Darragh (Kellogg Professor and Moderator), Ann Drake'84 (CEO and Chairman of DSC Logistics), Wendy Carlson'99 (Director on the board of Carlson Companies).