Academics

Former Kraft executive Paula Sneed presents ideas for creating your future

1/12/2012

Throughout her career, former Kraft executive Paula Sneed has created her own recipe for success. On Nov. 1, 2011, she delivered an inspirational speech to students at Concordia University Chicago entitled “Creating Your Future.” Sneed shared lessons learned throughout her career and provided career advice to the students.

Having grown up during the Women’s Movement and the Civil Rights Movement, Sneed was inspired by positive change and originally began working in the not-for-profit sector. Sneed knew that education was an important part of becoming a leader, so she went on to obtain her MBA from Harvard.

When she took a job with General Foods, she found a niche there. She went on to work with many international brands and worked her way up to various management and senior executive positions. Today she is CEO of her own company and is enjoying getting back into some not-for-profit work again.

Principles of Success

Sneed noted that finding success in the corporate world is much like finding success anywhere else. It takes hard work, being in the right place with the right skills when opportunity arises, and a little bit of luck.

She also shared what she calls “Paula’s Principles,” which are six things that she believes create a recipe for success.

  1. Leverage your unique point of difference. Everyone has his or her own personal experiences to learn from. Whether it is positive or negative, understand that your personal background can be a catalyst for your career. 
  2. Be a dreamer. Develop a goal that is completely bold and ridiculous. It should make you nervous and take your breath away.
  3. Have a game plan. If you don’t design your life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s life plan. Treat your personal journey like you would a business and always have a five-year plan.
  4. Shape your reality. Reality is not fixed, but rather it is constantly changing. We have the opportunity and the obligation to change things we don’t like.
  5. Surround yourself with the right people. Choose to be around those who will support your life dreams and help you through the transitions. Keep detractors at a distance.
  6. Be a poster child for exemplary character. Character and values are critical to long-term success. Create a list of things you would like to live up to and live with the highest ethical values.

Finding inspiration

Sneed mentioned that despite success, times aren’t always easy. Everyone needs inspiration. At one point in her career she found herself inspired by a newspaper article about a woman who overcame great odds. She was a single teenage mother of two without a high school diploma who created a new future for herself and went on to graduate from medical school. Sneed kept the article on her refrigerator as a source of inspiration and an example of what determination can do. She encouraged the students to find their own source of inspiration, wherever it may come from.

Sneed’s final words of advice? “Failure is not failing,” she says. Use every experience as an opportunity to learn and build your future platform.

About Paula Sneed

Sneed is the chairperson and CEO of Phelps Prescott Group, a strategy and management consultant group that she cofounded in 2007.  She has served as executive vice president, global marketing resources and initiatives, and member of the management committee of Kraft Foods, Inc. She has also held a variety of marketing, general management and senior executive roles, including chief marketing officer and executive vice president of several divisions for General Foods.

About the College of Business at Concordia University Chicago

The College of Business at Concordia University Chicago prepares confident, ethical leaders for today’s business world. The College offers a master of business administration (MBA) in accelerated two-year and one-year formats, either in the classroom or online. In addition to a comprehensive MBA, concentrations include accountingbanking and financial institutionshealth careleadership and change managementnot-for-profit managementschool business managementchief school business official, and sports management.

Bachelor degrees are offered in the areas of accountingbusiness communications,managementmarketingmedia artsmusic administrationnot-for-profit managementsports managementtheatre administration and visual arts administration.

Concordia University Chicago is located in River Forest, Illinois, just ten miles west of downtown Chicago. Learn more online at business.cuchicago.edu or call 708-209-3108.