Our Wendy Liebmann interviews Heather Hughes, SVP/GMM Walgreen Co. on leadership and life during the coronavirus. As board members of WE: Empowering Women to Advance Wellness, Wendy and Heather discuss developing talent in a crisis and everyday, and the importance of “raising your hand” in order to grow.
Live Chat Transcript
Wendy: Hello, hi. I’m Wendy Liebman and welcome to conversations with WE. I’m delighted to have here my partner in crime today Heather Hughes. Hey, Heather, how are you?
Heather: I’m good. Thank you.
Wendy: Good. Here we are sort of both suspended in animation in our homes. Welcome. Welcome to you all. And from us, we hope you’re all well. We hope your families are well, that work is manageable. Very Good to have you here with us.
We’re going to talk today about leadership in crisis or managing leadership in crisis or how do we lead in crisis, that sort of whole story of the world we’re now living in and how do we engage with that in ways that help us all grow and be stronger when we come out the other end? So let me do a little bit of an introduction.
I’ll ask Heather to talk a little bit about how it got started. But WE is an organization that began several years ago to help in the development, building a community to help women and development in healthcare, and the wellness industry. So if ever there’s been a more critical time for that this is it. So we’re happy to have this conversation today and talk about it. This is the third in the series we have had of our chats with leaders in the industry. And so I’m really thrilled to have Heather…she probably needs no introduction. But let me just give you the full, lengthy title. She is the group Vice President and DMM of or GMM I’m sorry a GMM, sorry, I’m going to get it right, I have another computer here because I have no printer. Because I’m juggling notes and everything, and GMM have seasonal general merchandise and photos for the Walgreens company. And she has quite an interesting and illustrious career at the company, which she’ll tell you about in a minute.
So the way this is going to work is that Heather and I will have a chat for about 30 minutes, until about one o’clock, we will then take questions from you in the audience. There is a Q&A box, you’ll find it somewhere depending on how you’re looking at us. So please feel free to type in any questions you have. And then we’ll try to get to as many of them as we can at the end. We will be recording this, it will be available through our website and our LinkedIn site so that if you want to share it with friends, family and the rest of your team, that would be wonderful. We’d love to help you to do that which would be terrific. So, the only other things I say to you is we’re all at home, right? So there are kids, dogs, partners, phones, you know, it’ll be like your life, something will go on. So do not panic, it’ll be fine. So if you hear any of that going on, you know, welcome to our lives as we welcome you to, you know, we know you where you’re sitting now, as she says, trying to juggle all that.
The only other qualification is Heather and I are our own tech people today. And I always hate it when women come up and say, Oh, well, I’m not very good at Tech. So we’re not going to say that. We’re going to tell you we’ve got Plan A and plan B, Plan A as it works, and here we are. Plan B is if there are any issues I’m in the woods, so you know Wi-Fi is spotty, but if we have any issues, don’t panic. We’ll try and fix it. If we can’t. We’ll just leave you to, you know, go off into the sunset today and we will send you a rock corded copy for your records. So no panics on that we’re all incredibly capable and ready to go. So enough of me blabbing. Heather before we talk about you, and Life and Leadership. Can you just set up since you’re a founding member of we? Could you just tell us a little bit about whey and how it got started?
Heather: Yeah, Wendy so, um, you know, I was fortunate enough, I was at an event and met, I’ve met a number of female leaders and there was about 20 of us that decided to get together and just kind of have a conversation and we were all within the health and wellness space in some way or another, whether it’s supplier or retailer. And we just met for two hours and our agenda was really simple. It was just to connect with each other and share experiences. So all just female leaders and wanting to have connections and you know, the topics are pretty simple how do you how do you do work life balance? How do you manage uncomfortable moments and sharing some funny stories around that some everything that you would expect, and the energy was really positive. And we thought, you know, we should have more of this and we should invite more people in and, you know, kind of walk away saying, let’s, let’s share a mission to empower more women and advance the next generation so that they’re empowered as well and, and develop a community.
And so that’s kind of what we’ve done with WE and it’s a community that we’ve been able to share the same types of conversations at industry events, whether it be through panels, or receptions or various activities, which have been wonderful and, and I think, you know, those who have gone and attended have really enjoyed it, but we also realize it doesn’t reach everyone. So that’s actually what brought on conversations with me was to put together an opportunity to continue those types of conversations we were having and those events, but make it available to everyone because that’s what a community is everybody can do it. So that’s how it all evolved in, in why we’re here today.
Wendy: No, that’s great. And I and I do remember it struck me. When we did the first panel at the NACDS total store Expo a couple of years ago. That was the first time I really sort of got to know you except beyond the around the board table way. And something that stands out to this day is that you brought your daughter Madison, who I think is maybe watching Hey, Madison, okay, in the other room, right?
Heather: She’s not with me.
Wendy: Not under the desk. But you brought your daughter Madison that I think was her birthday. Why was that important for you and for her?
Heather: You know, I’m, I view it as a mom. And as a leader in organization, I part of my job as a mom and as a female is to expose her to opportunities where she can see women being strong. Women communicating in large forums and showing confidence and one of those women being her mom. And so it was important for me to show her even though she told me she didn’t understand some of what we talked about, which makes sense. Um, she did get the fact that on a stage lot of people there, and women were very confident and powerful, and people wanted to hear about it. And that was definitely a takeaway and important for me to show her at a young age.
Wendy: Yeah, yeah. Sometimes we take it for granted, right? Because here we are. And I find it now, you know, consulting practice, and we’re dealing with leaders and retail and shopper insights and things like that, and you sometimes forget where you’ve come from. Yeah, so that really touched me a lot because I had a mom like you who wanted to expose me to things and, and I think about that a lot and says a lot about you. So, aside from all of that, so speaking of which, you Tell us a little bit about you and how you got to where you did at the Walgreens company and in life. And that’ll sort of sowed the seeds for the conversation about leadership.
Heather: Yeah. Um, so I’ll kind of start with the life aspect and then where that took me to Walgreens, but, you know, as younger in my age, when I was looking at what kind of schools I wanted to do, what did I want to pursue? I always knew I wanted to help people and get into some sort of health care. I was fortunate that my mom went to nursing school when I was a kid and I and I actually attended college classes with her because I enjoyed the topics and you know, through all of that, it led me to pharmacy and so that led me to the path of pharmacy and pursuing that degree and, you know, eventually there as a graduate Do it in pharmacy school and practice pharmacy for Walgreens found my path up into our support office. And that led me to where I am now, which is in merchandising and in business. And although still part of a healthcare company, I’d say I’m managing more of the emotional health and call it the treatment and wellness and those type of typical things that I was doing historically.
Wendy: So that that actually is interesting, because I think about emotional health. And I think about the times we now live in, what do you know now? Or what are you thinking about now that you didn’t in January or December or November? I mean, how has your life changed? You know, well, I’m going to interrupt myself which I have a terrible habit of doing. You know, we all often for the audience, one of the things that often comes up in that we conversations is work life balance. And I just laughed right now.
Why were we even worried about that in November? So, what’s your life like now? What is your day? Like when you think about your teams, your family, your leadership style? What do you know now?
Heather: Yeah, you know, I’ve always had a perspective, work life balance. It’s tough, right? Everybody fights this balance constantly. And I’ve always kind of viewed it as it’s worth, work life integration. So there are times I need to leave work for life. And there are times I need to leave my personal life to be able to accomplish what I need to for work and, and I’m okay with that, as long as I keep it where it’s not, you know, unbalanced in that way. And I find I’m doing that at home too. So I, you know, as we went virtual, I might be one of my first calls and there are many, many people on this call, you know, all the way up from an executive perspective, and I You know, my team was on there. And I happened to go off mute to comment on something. And that was the exact moment that my five year old thought it would be perfect to attack me like a dinosaur. And he did. And it was loud. And everybody on the phone heard or on the call heard, and, you know, it gave him a moment of reality, right? This is what everybody’s dealing with my five year olds, not going to preschool or nanny wasn’t coming into the house, and I’m having to occupy my dinosaur Dylan, all at the same time that, you know, I’m trying to manage a call and you know, and I think that’s, that’s the struggle that everybody has, and everybody does their best to kind of work around that. And I actually think it allows people to expose what’s really been going on because people have been trying to almost hide that they have this life going on in the background. And now it’s front and center and I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I actually think it’s welcome it. I think it’s, I think it’s great that it’s out in front.
Wendy: It’s interesting you say that because everybody I’ve spoken to over these last Two months, two and a half months that we’ve been home. That’s exactly the comment. People come to that now we see much more of our personal lives and how it fits and who we are. And it’s a much more open and honest conversation about the work. We’re still getting the work done. You know, we’re, we’re pushing through it. We’re doing some really innovative things because we have to, but we’re not one dimensional. And I found that’s really that’s really interesting. So and even for the audience, today, we were thinking we need one of those fake backdrops. And Andrew Fallon, our great leader, who’s there somewhere, she’s the chairperson of the board. She said, No, no, people want to see so it’s like, okay, we better clean up our rooms, right.
Wendy: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Well, I’m all open space so you can do anything going on here. So it’s a way to tell me a bit about how your experience at Walgreens has helped you in this moment in time in terms of leadership, how, what is it you’ve learned along the way? And how has that helped you now and or what have you had to learn differently? And it’s a big long question.
Heather: Yeah. So what I’d start with one thing at Walgreens is that I’ve learned along the way and built along the way it’s just relationships. I have built so many relationships and rapport with everyone that I’ve ever worked with, and I love it. My favorite part is working with people and I love every relationship that I’ve ever built. And I’d say, you know, when you move to a virtual environment where you’re not able to maybe have those casual Hallway Conversations anymore, you know, drive by someone’s desk, it does make it make it tougher and, and I’ve had to adapt how, how I kind of lead through that and have those conversations still, whether it’s a simple text, whether it’s an eye on chat, and and then Hop on a call real quick. So I’ve had to really adapt to some of that. And it’s not just me, I think everybody you know, is finding that that’s certainly a challenge. But because I have those historical relationships, it certainly helps that I have a strong comfort and being able to reach out to to hit anyone and everyone that I’ve built those relationships along the way at Walgreens, and, and not hesitate to, to ask, you know, how they might be managing something, or if they can help with something. And as we’ve had to be really agile within the company and adapt to the environment that we’re in.
Wendy: So is that those relationships that you built? Was that a sort of a more formal process? I mean, was there a mentoring and a mentee thing going on there within the organization? Or is that just your nature to do that? What should we know from that and how has that served you?
Heather: Yeah. So it wasn’t a formal process. That there’s a there’s a bit of it that we have here at the company, but I find I find the formal processes sometimes aren’t as productive as just doing it naturally and having those conversations and then saying, hey, you want to grab lunch or, or just when you see someone stopping for 10 minutes and catching up and I find so much value in that. Plus I just like knowing what’s going on with everyone and I just feel it’s more genuine and it’s true to who I am and how I want to be. So I tend not to steer toward those kind of set up programs versus just developing those relationships over time.
Wendy: So as you think about that in the way you’re working with your team now, how are you? How are you leading now differently than you might have? pre covert crisis?
Heather: Yeah, um, so obviously, we don’t have since we can’t touch base in person, we’re spending a lot of time we use teams, so we spent a lot of time on it. And we use video a lot, I think we were uncomfortable at first, we didn’t really turn the video on now, when we’re in the smaller settings or when I’m running a team meeting the videos on and i and i have tried to bring about the things that we were doing before but bring him into the virtual setting. So for example, we have new team members imagine being a new team member, starting a new company, and entering through this virtual environment where you’ve never actually in person met anyone, not even the person that hired you. And so we always have these team meetings and our new team members get to put a slide together that has kind of fun pictures and piece of information about themselves and, you know, turn your video on, we want it we want to see you we want to hear you and get to know you. And so I think everybody’s adapting to those types of ways of working and kind of bringing it into the virtual environment versus it obviously being in person, but I have more of those types of touch bases. Now, right? You just have to because you don’t have the hallway conversations anymore.
Wendy: Right? Right. Now you’ve got you’ve had an interesting background at Walgreens because you came from, as you said, pharmacy. And then now you’re in Merchandising, you were on health and wellness. You did the one of the wonderful angels that you did the vitamin angels, vitamin angels and that program. And now you’re in general merchandise and seasonal and as you work through all of those things. So how is that movement? I mean, how did you make that change? Was that on you? Or did you raise your hand for it? How did that come about? And how what have you learned about yourself as you moved and shifted throughout the organization and what should our younger, you know, sort of next gen audience think about there?
So interesting question because I would say younger in my career as I did move around, I wasn’t the one raising my hand It wasn’t because I didn’t want to I probably just didn’t think about doing it or I wasn’t courageous enough to raise my hand. However, I had a lot of relationships with other people that raised their hand for me and, and that’s actually how I moved around. So when I was out in the field as a pharmacy manager, my pharmacy supervisor at the time Tasha pollster she, you know, we were talking about what’s my what’s the next thing that I’m going to do and the only path I knew really was okay, you go and be a pharmacy supervisor, that’s the path and she said, No, no, we’re gonna find you a different path. I think you have the opportunity to go up into the Support Center. And so she came back to me, you know, months later and said, I want you to go apply for this other role and it was a roller doesn’t exist anymore. But it was back when we had a pharmacists shortage and it was a liaison between the field and pharmacy, schools and our HR department to be able to help bring in talent, our pharmacy, pharmacy, talent into stores, and So when I was in that role, then I started meeting other folks. And that’s how I met folks within merchandising. And then there again, my now friend, Andrea Calero, she raised her hand for me and said, I think you need to come over here and do this role. And it was essentially an associate category manager with an educational component, as it was called a disease state manager. And so I said, Okay, that sounds interesting. I’ll do that. And, but then from there, I started raising my hand, and I started saying, Okay, I think I want to do this, I want to be a category manager, can I have that role? And so it’s interesting because younger my career and you know, I look back on it, reflect on it. I should have been raising my hand and I wasn’t necessarily doing it, but I certainly had advocates out there to help me.
Wendy: So how do you encourage people in your team to do or people that you know, within the organization, to do that now to raise their hand now Rather than depend on others?
Heather: I think, you know, awareness of what’s happening in the environment around you and opportunities that present themselves and and saying, Hey, I really think that’s interesting. And in talking directly with your manager and saying, I’d like to get involved with that, too. And there’s many ways to do that. Right. It could be getting involved with a project that allows you to learn more within the company, or it may be that there’s a new role that very much interests you and not fearing raising your hand to say, I think this could be an interesting opportunity for me and, and I would encourage folks to do that. I think, you know, what I didn’t realize then that I realized now is leaders don’t necessarily know what you want to do. So if you don’t tell them there’s no way that they can help guide you without those camp conversations.
Wendy: Now, did you have a ratio of when you started to raise your hand? Did you ever raise your hand and somebody said, nuh uh, sorry?
Heather: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I don’t know that it was sorry. But okay, here are the things that you need to work on or to continue to work on. And then I think that role could be right for you. And there’s definitely roles that I interviewed for and didn’t get along the way. And, and, you know, and definitely took the feedback as to Okay, why did I not get that role? And, and how do I then improve on that? So? Yeah, I’d say yes. But the great thing is the feedback is what’s most important to continue to develop?
Wendy: Yeah. So here we are in uncharted waters, right? This is a time that I mean, I always say to people, this actually isn’t our first crisis. You know, we could go back to 2008 and the stock market crash which seemed to happen overnight and change things around. We have for some of us 2001 September 11 events so even for you’ve been at Walgreens, what 20 years or thereabout Yeah. So in that lifetime, you’ve had crises at different, you know, different levels of crises. But how is your job changed in the last two or three months?
Heather: Well, I’d say the biggest thing is, in one word, if I put it in one word, it’s agility. So I think, before the crisis, everyone was talking about agility is important. That’s how companies are going to succeed. And we need leaders to be agile and and certainly believed in that, but it turned into No, no, no, we need you to be agile right now, in this moment and about as agile as you can be, so, you know, whether it be Hey, we were doing, we’re going down this other path, and now we need to completely change our path and have you know, new short term long term objectives and strategies to drive toward that passed. So I think it’s great to know that you had that muscle, you know, in you, but then now really having to flex it and say, Okay, how agile can we be in order to adapt to this crisis and adapt to how customers are changing?
Wendy: Yeah. Is that the biggest surprise you’ve had about yourself throughout this? Or what is the biggest surprise?
Heather: Um, biggest surprise I, I wouldn’t I don’t know that it was its agility, but maybe it’s my, I think the way that the teams have really been agile, so it’s probably less about me and more about how the team’s really have it in them, right. Like, my team is amazing. They, you know, I’ll say, Hey, we need to do this and we need to do it now. And, and, oh, by the way, at the same time that you’re doing all these other things, so I’m really sorry about that. But this is what we need to do. And somehow they’re getting it done. And I’ve been really impressed because I’m, you know, like, sending them in. It’s a completely different direction while maintaining the direction that we’re in. And they’ve been able to adapt. So I think that’s really what surprised me and not because I didn’t think that they were capable of it. I’ve just never had to test the team to that degree to find out that, wow, it’s pretty amazing how strong they are and how agile they really are.
Wendy: Yeah, that ability to cope. I mean, I came from a personal point of view that sort of what I’m going to call the shock of view, which, of course, is the work we do. There’s, we just finished some of our how America shops research and there was one data point, there’s always one that sort of jumps up. That 52% of the population said they were proud of how they were managing in this crisis. And this was, you know, a couple of weeks ago.
And that to itself, that by itself said to me so much about us as people as people in the workplace. I mean, when so many people are losing their jobs, and so many people are ill and sadly dying, and so and our lives have been out of kilter. So with that sort of from us, that’s very shopper centric. But we are the sharpest. Right. So that that what you just said there, I think is really extraordinary when you think and you’ve talked about hiring a little bit now, when you think about hiring, if you’re hiring somebody today, tomorrow, as you no doubt will be, what are you looking for now, that may be different to what you might have six months ago.
Heather: So I you know, it does get back to this ability to be flexible, agile, so you may be hiring into a role that is defined a particular way today, but the customer, we may redefine that role to be something different six months from now or three months from now, just based on how quickly everything’s changing. I think that’s probably one of one of the big things that I’d be looking for outside of kind of the normal parameters because I wouldn’t want anybody to come into a job thinking well, it’s absolutely this and knowing that the way that Customers changing so quickly right now that we also are going to have to change to.
Wendy: Yeah, that’s very interesting. And that talks to the question for you about how do you see healthcare changing in the next six months? 12 months? I mean, do you have a view of that?
Heather: You know,I think at a very high level, when you think about health care, just people are gonna think differently about prevention. And it’s going to ingrain in them that they’re thinking about everything they touch, everything they come in contact with who they come in contact with. And it’s going to change the dynamics of how they clean their house or how they keep their hands clean. It’s kind of basic hygiene is going to go into a bit of overdrive. And how, you know, how does that sustain over time? I’m not sure I think that that’s what ‘s going to be interesting and then what are the ramifications to healthcare when those types of changes happen? And then I think you couple that with, you know, as people have been in these lockdowns and maybe not out in is active is typical, you know, there might be some weight gain. And so people may be thinking about, okay, now it’s time to become more active and because I need better health anyways for the circumstances that we’re in. And so I think all of these things are going to come into play into customers and into the healthcare industry as it continues to evolve in this setting. And then the real interesting pieces over time as there is a vaccination, how, what stays and what changes and I think that that’s where, you know, we won’t be able to make as much prediction just yet but, over time, it’ll be interesting to see what happens.
Wendy: Yeah, it is interesting to think about how technology not only has informed and changed our work life, but the way to Technology has transformed not only how we buy because obviously that was part of it. But how we get our medical care I’m, I’m intrigued when I get my push for more brains that says, you know, if you want sort of the doc in a box of pharmacist in a box, we’re here for you all of those things Old World delivery, you know, we can deliver things. So Old World new world through technology, and how do you see that informing both the work you do in your areas of merchandising and the expectations you have of your team? And what sort of talent they need in that in that way?
Heather: Yeah. So I’ll speak to in general and merchandising because the seasonal and Jen merchant, there’s some plays not as much as there will be, I think in the healthcare areas, but you know, as you think about telehealth and what that might look like and more over the counter recommendations, or even usage of pharmacists, even more so because they are accessible I think all of those come into play. When I think about as it relates back to the categories that my teams manage. You know, it’s I think new categories are going to develop over time, right? So when we think about Gen merge today, I think there’s going to be a new Gen merge categories that are going to answer and solve for solutions, whether it’s within the tech space or the support against the tech space, as it’s related to healthcare and other types of concepts that support you know, kind of the outcomes of where we’re headed.
Wendy: Yeah, I think about I was thinking about general merchandise the other day, and I was thinking about, you know, in the drugstores in the day, and to some degree today, you know, you can find a folding beach chair, right. Yeah. And now I see people when they’re having them meet, you know, they’re having friends come by kind of drive bys. And people have got those folding chairs and I was thinking, Oh, that’s kind of a health and wellness thing. You know, we need both chairs so we can sit outside and when To our family as they drive by and sing happy birthday or something. So you’re right. Everything really has a different kind of lens merchandising standpoint or a health standpoint as we move forward. Right?
Heather: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And it’s, I find it really fascinating, right, because we were thinking about it with a different lens coming into the business, pre COVID. And then now that we’re in COVID, you’re thinking about, wow, this is a completely different usage that would have never been defined that way, you know, six months ago.
Wendy: Yeah. And so the role, sort of, here’s the big question, the role for women in this world, this new world, in management, I look around the world and I see some of these extraordinary female leaders who are getting lots of credit for the way they’ve managed this crisis. versus some of the male leaders, no politics intended. But as I think about that, you know, our determination as WE as this community to enhance the role of women and female talent in health and wellness. Does this help us at all? Does this help us, you know, this crisis is is there’s something there that we can take advantage of as women.
Heather: Yeah. You know, I think if women want to it can, I mean, there’s a certain amount of compassion that comes in here as as youth empathy, right, as you think about whether it’s folks that have lost jobs, whether it’s, you know, team members who are now adapting to this new integrated solution where their children are front and center with them at work. I think I think it’s something that moms and females cope with on a regular basis, and maybe have some better understanding to and, you know, I even find it interesting watching my husband kind of adapt to the environment too. And I, you know, a month or two ago, he was closed door, no one could come into the bedroom when he was on a call. Now, I came in the other day to close and he’s like, Oh, no, it’s okay. If they see in the background, it’s okay. You know, just, I actually think, you know, whereas I was sitting out in the open almost the entire time so that I could help the kids. I think I think things can be taught to others, whether it’s, you know, just having this open environment and under being understanding and compassionate and empathetic. And I think women have an opportunity to, to really rise to the challenge and not that men don’t have that they absolutely do that. Men are wonderful, and many of them have it. But it’s certainly something that I think women, it’s a strength of many women.
Wendy: Yeah. So if you think about that, for those of you listening, watching we we have in addition to our board and the community Expansion we have a real focus on we have a next gen board next generation board, just so you know, but so for as you think about the next generation, your mind next generation and your next generation, are there two or three things that you would say to them now at this moment in time about how they should move forward? And think about the future and development in this health and wellness, place and state of things?
Heather: Yeah, I mean, I’d say first off, don’t apologize for the situation you’re in. It’s okay. And you know, you may not have daycare and your children are working with you, and that is okay. And you may have to say, I’m sorry, I can’t do I can’t be available at that time because I need to take care of my family. And I think all of that’s okay. And I think being open and honest, is about that. With your leadership. I think this is a time where understanding comes in, and quite frankly, exposure to that is so effective. Because I think it’s going to build the path for the future on it too. And, you know, I also think, be strong, be confident, we can get through this we can get through all of this and, and I think showing that strength and showing that confidence is gonna help you stand out and, and continue to show that you have the strength to lead through this environment, whatever that may look like for the situation that everybody’s in.
Wendy: That’s a great way to sort of think about this and settle on something very positive and optimistic and uplifting. So I thank you for that. We’re into our, whatever, 45 minutes or something not quite whatever it is. We’ve got about two minutes now, for questions. I’m looking at a few of them here. The first one said there was no volume so I hope whoever whoever got on to that and out because nobody else said it. So maybe You figured out your volume situation, hopefully. So, oh, here’s a question. How many members are in We? I don’t know that I know the answer to that.
Heather: I don’t think I know the answer either.
Wendy: Okay, we’re going to send you an answer to that. There are a lot and we need more. So please go to the website. It’s a weird website. Let me just I had to write it down. It was on that first slide. It’s www the number four, we w a four way.org. So go on and engage with us and go on to our LinkedIn page and all of those things. There’s here’s another question. How do you see the supplier and retailer relationship evolving in a post COVID world and what will be best in class partnering look like for you and your businesses.
Heather: So you know, supply and demand has greatly changed. What our customers are demanding today is different than what they demanded six months ago. And I think the suppliers that are able to adapt to this new demand and, and help the retailer adapt to the new demand and deliver to the customer and make sure that they have what they need are going to be the ones that are most successful. And the way that the partnerships form are really about that relationship and making sure that we get what the customer needs and get that in front of the customer. And I think you know, when you think about best in class partnership on that, it’s about having the discussions about this evolving time, because the reality is none of us know what tomorrow is going to look like what a one week from now is going to look like what three weeks from now, let alone what the Fall is going to look like or the winter is going to look like so sharing information and intelligence that everyone has, and what we’re all learning so that we can bring it all together to make our best educated hypotheses on what it might look like. So we can create hair and make sure that we’re ready for what may face us make sure our customers can get what they need, I think is the ultimate view of what best in class partnership will look like.
Wendy: Um, and so, coming out of that question, you know, are there any positive is another question any positive behaviors or habits that you’re going to maintain coming out of this interest? There are some you’re going to say, like, yeah, running and getting your hair colored let’s not do it at home.
Heather: Yeah, um, you know, I’d say one of the big ones is life slowed down. I don’t know about you, Wendy. But my life was really really, really busy. Prior to this, and I’m not saying it’s not busy, but the moments that I’ve had to cherish with my family have been wonderful and not to say that I didn’t have it before. It’s just they were all on a softball field or at a basketball court or we’re always on the run. And so I have a new appreciation for take the moments to slow down and make sure we have those times together. And I think I’m gonna prioritize that and make sure that that retains itself because I think, you know, I’ve seen new bonds formed between my kids and I want to make sure that those stay intact, you know, and that’s kind of on the personal note and then on the on the work side, I think, you know, I think our ability to adapt to this environment and use virtual andand be successful in doing that needs to stay and, and being able to then allow team members to adapt and be flexible as they need to. I think all of that I want it to be takeaways for my team as we continue to work in this environment and then post the environment.
Wendy: You said something earlier in the piece about this is my question earlier. In the piece about relationships and you, I know this about you, and you said that this notion about building relationships has been really important. Have you found that easier, hard and different? In a virtual in a virtual setting like this?
Heather: It is harder, it is harder. I mean, the moments where, as I mentioned, right, like, can’t stop by someone’s desk and you can’t you don’t just bump into people in the hallway that you hadn’t seen for a few weeks or a month. So it is harder, I think there’s going to need to be more effort to make it happen. You know, I reach out now and say, Hey, do you want to get together on a zoom, virtual happy hour and, and those types of things. So I think I also am leveraging social media. And I think that that’s helpful too. And you can communicate that way. So there’s other tools out there to use. And it’s learning how to use them and try to accomplish the same types of things. So that those really relationships can continue to take form.
Wendy: And how do you use your partnerships now as opposed to when people were standing in the Walgreens lobby?
Heather: It’s different. I mean, we can do different things. Product samples are really hard to exchange. But when it comes to general thinking like having your in person meeting vs having a virtual meeting you still accomplish it and i can still see your face. I’d also say that it does allow for me to be more flexible. Because you know, sometimes meetings do run long or a meeting will just show up on your calendar that you hadn’t anticipated and of course it falls over that poor vendor that’s waiting in the room to wait with you. We can now adapt much easier in this type of environment. Plus you can see your supplier much more frequently over video and we probably should have been using this tool before.
Wendy: It is crazy all of the tools that we do have that we aren’t using at maximum advantage it takes something like this to kind of force us to rethink the tools that we’re using and get out of that traditional mode.
So, I have one last question, any recommendations for how next gen can upscale their digital expertise considering we’re all living in this virtual world.
Heather: Children are very helpful, not necessarily having them but they can be very helpful with technology so start there. I also think it’s important to consider do I have a good, credible LinkedIn profile, do I need to establish relationships differently than how I was before? Think about those social sites and how they might work for you so that you can have different interactions with people to take the place of events and where you would have otherwise networked in a social setting. I think, in this environment, at least for me, that when people reach out I find that I want to spend more time with them and make sure I can get them what they need. I make it a priority, don’t be afraid to reach out to folks ahead of you and ask those questions and see if there’s anything you can do in order to keep continuing to advance your career.
Wendy: So you ended where you began, it’s about relationships. Thank you Heather, I feel in some ways that I’ve spent more time with you here than I do when we’re around a big table or at a meeting. So, thank you, thank you for your time, your generosity, thank you for being one of the founding members of WE community. We do encourage everyone to visit our website and our LinkedIn page. We have a very active group of next-gen and more mature board members so we’re always looking for new members to keep building our relationships.