You might think that a woman who sells $20 billion worth of beauty products in a year would have been, in her youth, a girly girl.
Not Gina Drosos. "I was a total tomboy," she says.
The top boss of Procter & Gamble's (PG) global beauty division is, like quite a few of Fortune's Most Powerful Women, a recovering jock. Growing up in Atlanta with a brother and a neighborhood packed with boys, Drosos was a basketball star. She played shooting guard for the Ridgeview High School girl's team, which named her MVP. At P&G, where she started 24 years ago as a summer intern and marketed Spic 'n Span floor cleaner early on, she has spent her spare time coaching basketball--her daughter's grade-school team.
In fact, it was as coach of her daughter and a team of 6th grade girls, that Drosos learned her best lesson in balancing work and family. A couple years ago, when a mandatory business trip to Asia clashed with a basketball tournament, Drosos promised the kids that she would come home if they made it all the way to the championship. The team didn't start out looking strong, but the girls got it together. And against all odds, they were in the finals.
So, as promised, Drosos jumped on a plane and rushed home to Cincinnati. She recalls flying 24 hours, making three stops, and arriving with no time to spare. "I made it 45 minutes before the game started and coached the girls," she says.
"We won. We won the championship."
A few hours later, on a Sunday night, Drosos was in her office at P&G headquarters leading a video conference with her team in Singapore,. They spent eight hours strategizing how to expand brands like Pantene and Olay and finally ended the meeting on Monday at 3 a.m.
Drosos was spent, but she showed where she stands on the work-family dilemma that stresses every working woman. Her decision to cut her trip short and coach her daughter Claire's team "gave permission to other women to be able to do the same kind of thing," she realized.
Claire just turned 13, is still playing basketball, and now gives her mom advice on Cover Girl products. Drosos, 48, whose husband is a consultant, has a son as well. Will turns 15 in August. "My son has for years given me advice on all the Old Spice products," she says, smiling.
"A great secret of leadership and of being a great boss," Drosos adds, "is to see things from other people's perspective. Nobody tells you more than teenagers, who really want you to see it from their perspective.
"It's what helps you be a great parent as well."
Indeed, at a certain point, the kid becomes the coach. And the parent learns a big lesson of business and of life: Real power comes from giving it away.
by Patricia Sellers
The takeaway was pretty discouraging this week when Fortune and recruiting giant Heidrick & Struggles (HSII) co-hosted a discussion on women and boards.
The participants -- members of the Fortune Most Powerful Women community convening in Washington, D.C. -- came up with lots of reasons that "corporate boards get a D for diversity" (the title of my Postcard on Monday). Such as: the club-like culture of boards, the white MOREPatricia Sellers - May 5, 2011 10:16 AM ET
By Patricia Sellers
When I started my career at Fortune in 1984, corporate America was a land of white men. As I say in my talks about women and power, bosses back then were white men without facial hair.
We've come a long way—just look at Fortune's Most Powerful Women list.
But a new report on Fortune 500 board composition, released by the Alliance for Board Diversity this morning, should make diversity champions weep.
The MOREPatricia Sellers - May 2, 2011 7:37 AM ET
by Jessica Shambora
We're toiling away on this year's Fortune Most Powerful Women in Business list, due out September 10. Anything can happen up to the minute we go to press, and this news today caused us to shuffle those yet-to be-unveiled rankings: Procter & Gamble's (PG) Melanie Healey is moving up to head the company's enormous North American business, effective October 1.
No. 37 on last year's MPWomen list, Healey currently MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Sep 2, 2009 12:46 PM ET
by Patricia Sellers
There aren't many hero CEOs anymore. So it's remarkable that two of the most admired chiefs have announced their retirement within the past three weeks.
First came Anne Mulcahy, who saved Xerox (XRX) from near-bankruptcy.
Now comes the news that Procter & Gamble (PG) CEO A. G. Lafley is stepping down after reviving that consumer giant and doubling its size to $83.5 billion in less than a decade. Like Mulcahy, MOREPatricia Sellers - Jun 9, 2009 12:02 PM ET
The ouster of Bank of America's (BAC) chief risk officer, Amy Brinkley, was inevitable, as I wrote in "Behind the shakeup at BofA" on Friday.
And as I mentioned in that piece, two years ago, Fortune featured Brinkley and five other execs in "One Step Away," about rising-star Most Powerful Women on track to be CEOs of Fortune 500 companies someday. So what's happened to the other five?
One woman made it MOREPatricia Sellers - Jun 8, 2009 12:31 PM ET
Another Fortune Most Powerful Woman -- a longtime member of our annual Power 50 list -- is leaving the corporate world. Susan Desmond-Hellmann, who was Genentech's (DNA) president of product development, is heading to the University of California San Francisco as chancellor.
Desmond-Hellmann's departure from business's upper echelons (She ranked No. 13 on Fortune's 2008 Power 50 list) adds to the trend of top women execs leaving corporations and deciding not MOREPatricia Sellers - May 1, 2009 3:41 PM ET
Another powerful woman called last week to tell me she's opting out. "I'm going to do what I want to do rather than what I need to do," said Julie Fasone Holder, Dow Chemical's (DOW) SVP and chief marketing, sales and reputation officer
It's the trend lately. If you've been checking into Postcards regularly, you've read about my conversations with high-ranking women choosing the good life vs. the grind. Susan Arnold MOREPatricia Sellers - Apr 7, 2009 2:40 PM ET
Who are you? It's more important than ever to know the answer to this question.
Think about it - When you're on shaky ground (aren't we all these days?), when your bosses and direct reports question your moves (admit it, they do), and when you're rethinking your life or career (you'd better be, or you're a fool), you need one core competency: Know thyself.
A primer in this regard: a book that I MOREPatricia Sellers - Mar 27, 2009 12:54 PM ET
by Patricia Sellers
Dawn Hudson spent more than a decade chasing stretch goals at PepsiCo (PEP). She headed sales and marketing at Frito-Lay, the consumer giant's snack unit. She led marketing at Pepsi-Cola North America and ascended to CEO of that $5.5 billion business.
That job turned out to be Hudson's ceiling inside PepsiCo, where chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi has put her own stamp on the company. Hudson (who ranked as MOREPatricia Sellers - Mar 26, 2009 1:39 PM ET
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