Profile: Wendy DavidsonPresident, U.S. Specialty Channels
Wendy Davidson is serving as Chair of the Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF) Board for 2016. Features talked to her about her career and her longtime affiliation with this leadership development organization.
“The WFF is 27 years old, and I have been a proud member for the past 21 of them. The organization started with a group of passionate women who wanted to elevate women leaders to create more gender-balanced executive teams in our industry. To do that, they knew they needed to create opportunities for women to develop core competencies, build critical leadership skills and create the connections required to reach the executive suite.
I became involved with the WFF early in my career, while working at another food company, where I often found myself being the only woman and, often, the youngest person on the team. During this time, I had moved job functions and transitioned from a sales position into a marketing role although I did not have a traditional marketing background. My manager encouraged me to attend a WFF event, where I was introduced to some of the best and brightest marketing executives and editors from across the food industry. When I became a member, I was instantly connected with this talented network of leaders who were not only interested in getting to know me, but willing to provide valuable coaching and support. At the first event, I was struck by the number of people who asked about my goals and then offered their time, experience and insights.
I have benefited enormously from WFF, and I want to ensure our team has the opportunity to leverage the content, competencies and connections the organization has to offer. I believe that when you move forward in your career, you need to hold the door open and reach a hand back to help others to achieve their full potential.
WFF provided opportunities for me to connect with others and engage to develop new skills and learn best practices. I volunteered on marketing and public relations committees, which provided me the opportunity to test ideas that I could take back and apply at my company. My mentors within WFF allowed me to ask questions and test ideas and they helped to guide me along the way.
From that first event, I formed a strong network of people — both men and women — that I could reach out to and look to throughout my career. They shared their experiences and insights as I transitioned to each new role in my career. Many of these individuals were working for competitor companies, yet that never seemed to matter. We all shared in a mission to elevate women in the workplace and change the face of leadership in our industry. They eventually became great business partners.
In 2010, I was elected to serve on the WFF Board of Directors, three years before I joined Kellogg. In 2012, I joined the Executive Committee and then, in 2016, I was named Board Chair of the organization. Many of the women I have worked with at WFF over the years are now customers of Kellogg’s. And the connections made through my involvement with WFF have led to business opportunities that span across the company.
Today at Kellogg, we have about 75 employees who are WFF members engaging in a variety of ways, ranging from attending the organization’s events such as the Annual Leadership Development Conference, regional Leadership Development Workshops or Executive Summit, to accessing competency development tools and programming via webinars. WFF has a comprehensive library of resources that companies like ours can use for development with employees and employee resource groups. Recently, we created a committee inside of Kellogg that is focusing on how to leverage these WFF resources more effectively so we can reach even more employees at Kellogg — men as well as women.
Our people are our most competitive advantage, and developing a pipeline of ready leadership talent is a critical enabler to delivering on our growth plans. I have benefited enormously from WFF, and I want to ensure our team has the opportunity to leverage the content, competencies and connections the organization has to offer. I believe that when you move forward in your career, you need to hold the door open and reach a hand back to help others to achieve their full potential.”
Working with External Professional Organizations
Just as Wendy Davidson (see story above) has benefited from her work with the Women’s Foodservice Forum, our employees benefit from the networking and development opportunities offered by other professional organizations. The following are some of the organizations with which Kellogg and our employees are involved:
- Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA)
- CALIBR Global Leadership Network
- Executive Leadership Council (ELC)
- Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
- National Association for Female Executives (NAFE)
- National Organization on Disability (NOD)
- Network of Executive Women (NEW)
- Out & Equal
- PFLAG (formerly Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays)
- Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF)