Kathy Button Bell connected with Emerson in 1999 after being president of her own company, Button Brand Development, a marketing consulting firm. She was executive director of worldwide marketing communications for North Andover, MA-based Converse Inc. and director of advertising and public relations for Wilson Sporting Goods Co., in Chicago.
Among other things, Button Bell has been a wonderful contributor in the classroom, judged multiple times, and has been part of the success of Olin’s Women’s Leadership Forum. Through these efforts and more, she exemplifies what it means to be a Friend of Olin. Friends are those who are giving of their time, their knowledge, share their years of experience, and who open the doors of their companies to students and faculty to help Olin build better leaders.
Some friendly questions for Friends of Olin:
What has been one of your most valuable experiences at Olin Business School?
I have really enjoyed my experience with the Women’s Leadership Forum. Faculty members, such as Hillary Sale and Michelle Duguid, regularly share the latest and greatest on leadership research while the Forum provides opportunity for women to tap the great advice from our community’s business leaders. The access to and partnership with these female leaders has been outstanding.
What is the most compelling thing your mentor has done for you?
David Farr, Emerson’s CEO, has always been an unflinching supporter of our most progressive marketing efforts. He has placed an enormous amount of trust in our marketing teams, offering all of us ‘creative runway’. His willingness to push marketing boundaries inspires us to constantly seek ways to make Emerson more unique and modern.
What are the 3 biggest challenges facing leaders today?
• Short-term focus of the market
• Global / political instability
• The modern work environment. In the last several years, workplace dynamics have changed dramatically. Companies are expected to develop meaningful relationships with their employees like never before. This pressures internal communication to be more transparent and in tune to employees’ needs.
What is the one behavior or trait you have seen impede leaders’ careers?
Personal insulation. The easiest way to fall behind is to get trapped in your own bubble.
Tell us about a pivotal moment in your career.
Joining Emerson. Coming from a consumer marketing background, the industrial world was an underdeveloped environment. It has been fun to introduce sound and color to a company in the BtoB space. Most gratifying of all is helping to accelerate change in an established, successful culture.
What are you grateful for today? Why?
A happy, healthy child (in college). Better than any other accomplishment, I’m grateful to have raised an independent young man.
Who’s your favorite business speaker or author? Why?
Keith Yamashita, the founder and chairman of SYPartners. He wrote the book on corporate anniversaries, and his ideas completely turned around my perspective on corporate milestones. He took the notion of a moment in time and turned it into a deep meaningful lesson on corporate ethos and growth.