Katelyn Berry is the VP/GM for Michelin’s business to consumer portfolio, serving on the North American Executive Leadership team. She is a strategic marketing executive with a track record of delivering financial value creation through inspiring vision, team empowerment, and insight-driven business strategy.
Katelyn’s broad consumer and market understanding is enabled by diverse industry experience that spans consumer packaged goods, retail/e-commerce, wireless communications, and the tire industry. She has delivered growth to businesses, regardless of their stage in the business cycle, at some of the most consumer-centric companies globally, including Target, Amazon, Conagra Brands, and now Michelin.
Through her work over the last 15 years, Katelyn achieved several milestones, including growing Amazon’s Hardlines Private Brands portfolio into a multi-billion dollar business; she launched four new brands and scaled Amazon Basics into the #1 selling brand on Amazon.com while leading their marketing department. At Conagra Brands, she managed Orville Redenbacher’s and Act II, initiating brand strategies to increase market share and return the iconic brands to growth. Her work at U.S. Cellular in the 2010s and at Target in the late 2000s had similar stories of growth but also provided experience in emergent technologies (Smartphones) and foundational operations in retail that complement the brand building, brand management, eCommerce, and marketing technology she later acquired at Conagra Brands and Amazon. Today, she brings her tenured marketing experience to accelerate growth for Michelin’s tire business and the Michelin Restaurant Guide.
Katelyn received her B.S. in Marketing from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. She returned to her alma mater for her MBA in 2010, attracted to DePaul’s diverse student and faculty population and the innovative approach to higher learning she experienced in undergrad. She also has a passion for DEI-related initiatives, having served as the President of Conagra Brands’ LGBTQ+Ally Employee Resource Network in 2016 and currently serving as the Executive Sponsor for Michelin’s LGBTQ+A Business Resource Group.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
A typical day starts the night before. Specifically, I like to review my calendar briefly on my phone to mentally prepare for the topics and discussions that will be had the next day and the guidance teams are seeking. Day of, I start with quality time in the morning having breakfast (and lots of coffee) with my son and partner before I head into work and upon arrival, a full day of meetings commences.
Throughout the day, I have the pleasure of interfacing with diverse teams on topics that span all elements of business management and steering: supply chain, advertising, strategic planning, product launches, eCommerce strategies, or even prepping for upcoming customer meetings, etc. The topics are broad and wide so to help be productive, it’s critical that we are objective and agenda-driven and allow sufficient time for discussion and alignment. Most importantly, proper meeting recapping and documentation of next steps with owners coming out of the meetings helps to keep the teams focused and prioritized – it also acts as a reference and reminder days after the meeting. We also like to refer to the recap at the start of the subsequent meeting that is hosted to pick up where we last left off.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I focus both on the vision and on the tactics – I think you need both to enroll support and bring the idea to fruition. The vision inspires but the tactics are what translates an idea into actuality. I start with the purpose and desired outcome as critical pieces, also articulating what the end benefit the idea brings to the organization. From there, show the tangible stages, milestones, and resourcing needed to go from current to future state.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Does sustainability still qualify as a trend? I hope so! I think sustainability is becoming more and more demanded by consumers, and approaches and capabilities are becoming more sophisticated, but all industries and entities still have a long way to go. The topic excites me because it is ever-evolving with new focal areas and challenges – what was once a focus on the environment has now expanded to economic and social sustainability. It keeps you motivated as a leader to tackle challenges that span these topics in order to deliver better results and results that matter, those that leave a positive impact on the world around you.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Accountability to yourself and others. Having accountability to yourself ensures that you accomplish what you set out to deliver. Accountability to others demonstrates when you say you will get something done, you do. This creates trust between you and others which removes the need for excess touchpoints and communications mid-stream, allowing for you to keep going and make progress.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Do not worry about figuring out what you want to be when you grow up as you still won’t know 20 years into your professional career! You will enjoy the ride, enjoy your work, enjoy growing, and have the benefit of engaging and forming relationships with some of the most amazing people and that’s what it is about.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Work backward from the consumer and leverage the fundamentals. When you focus on the consumer, you don’t get distracted by the competition, you focus on innovation to better serve and meet the needs of the consumer in ways no one else is doing today. Layer in the fundamentals, for example, marketing principles, strategic frameworks, and it keeps you organized and strategic on how you approach solving challenges and developing ideal offers to meet your consumer’s needs.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
You can’t sell what you don’t have in stock online or in-store, so supply chain and inventory management are critical. It is not the glamorous side of marketing or managing a business, but practicing supply chain segmentation or even inventory frontloading with key customers and marketplaces ensures that you have the right products, in the right place, at the right time, to maximize sales and drive growth. It’s easy to get distracted by the consumer-facing elements of the business, like product, packaging, content, etc, but without operational prowess, it’s hard to grow.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
The furniture industry, think of West Elm, Wayfair, Amazon, Crate & Barrel; they are all ripe for syndicated data that helps them understand at scale what products are being sold across physical stores and online. This type of data would be used to optimize offers, create new innovations, identify the share of market opportunities by geography, etc. Establishing a syndicated data repository with the likes of what The NPD Group or Nielsen does for other categories could be a multi-million dollar business.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I bought four picture frames to frame my son’s artwork. He is just over two years old and loves to paint. I’m always impressed by his color choices and creativity with the various paintbrushes he uses. He’s intentional but freeform at the same time, and I think that’s the same mentality that leaders need to demonstrate, be intentional but also be freeform to any given situation. Most importantly, the happiness it brings him to see his artwork on the wall is priceless.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Pricefx is a recent one, and it enables dynamic, data-driven pricing strategies at scale. With such a large product offering across multiple brands, software that allows for fast pricing action has been instrumental in this high inflationary environment.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
On Becoming a Leader by Warren Bennis. My grandfather gave me this book early in my career, and it shaped my approach to management and project leadership. Some may argue the examples are outdated or too large in scale for a business leader, but the principles remain. The author is experienced and leveraged working examples of leadership in action, making it both informative and practical at the same time.
What is your favorite quote?
“Your attitude determines your aptitude” – anonymous.
Literally, your attitude is what determines everything. Positivity, resiliency, and willingness to deal with ambiguity are examples of how your attitude can enable your ability to achieve something.
- Prepare today for tomorrow. Ensuring you show up every day with a level of preparedness will help deliver the best, ideal results from your day and your team.
- Accountability ensures you achieve your goals and enables trust with others. Trust from others delivers speed in your work as it removes unnecessary check-ins and communication.
- It’s vision and tactics that bring ideas to life. Use vision to inspire use tactics to deliver results.
- Personal connections with family, friends, and coworkers are what life is about. Balance your connections while working, and you will get the most out of life.
- Fundamental operations cannot be overlooked when it comes to growing and steering a business. Ensure you focus on developing that muscle while also working on a consumer-centric strategy that advances your business.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.