In the early 1990s, while working at Procter & Gamble in Hunt Valley, Tracey Griffin helped launch new cosmetics for the CoverGirl and Max Factor brands.
Now, after having worked as a Washington-based consultant for McKinsey & Co., Griffin finds herself once again in the Baltimore area helping to lead a fashion-oriented brand. This time, the product is jewelry and the company is Pandora.
Griffin, a Bethesda resident, joined Pandora Americas as chief operating officer last month. She will report to Pandora Americas President Scott Burger and oversee three departments: operations, legal and information technology.
The Danish maker of customized sterling bracelets and charms bills itself as affordable luxury jewelry. The company sells products in more than 80 countries on six continents at jewelers and in about 1,200 Pandora-branded stores. The regional headquarters for the Americas, which has been based in Columbia since 2003 with about 250 employees, will be moving to Pratt Street in Baltimore by early next year.
In her previous job at McKinsey, Griffin served as a senior partner for the global consulting firm, leading the firm's Washington office and its consumer health area. She worked with Fortune 500 companies in consumer products, retail, pharmaceuticals and consumer health. At Procter & Gamble, she led teams that oversaw several cosmetic brands and helped spur record gains in market share. Before that, she worked in New York as an analyst with Paine Webber.
Pandora's new COO has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University. She sits on the board of the United Negro College Fund in Washington and has served on the board of Dress for Success, a nonprofit group that helps disadvantaged women succeed in the workplace by providing professional apparel, support and career development tools.
Pandora has grown rapidly but is still looking to expand its presence and brand in the U.S. What, in your view, will keep Pandora a growing brand that's relevant to women?
We are singularly focused on delighting the Pandora consumer. It starts with investing in understanding who she is. What motivates her? What inspires her? We have some of the best artisans in the world who can then bring to life that inspiration through beautifully designed pieces that allow our Pandora consumer to express her unique self.
We have an unbelievably passionate workforce. You can feel the energy and pride when you walk the halls, and there is no feat that is too big that a group of passionate Pandora colleagues can't make happen. We have a strong loyal network of retail partners who are equally passionate about the brand and have the power to amplify the power of our brand and create terrific experiences at retail.
What steps did you take at Procter & Gamble, where you worked on the CoverGirl Face and Max Factor Lip & Nail businesses, to boost sales of cosmetic brands? Do you expect that experience to translate to your role at Pandora?
Under my tenure, we launched a number of new products, including a major expansion of our color palette to meet the needs of women of color.
There are many similarities between cosmetics and jewelry, which I didn't fully appreciate until after being at Pandora. Operationally, both businesses are some of the most complex consumer-facing businesses, simply because of the number of [stock keeping units] or DVs (as we say in the jewelry industry) that must be managed through the supply chain. The pace of innovation is fast in both businesses, which requires successful players to be nimble and forward-looking. Cosmetics and jewelry are heavily influenced by fashion and other external trends, which requires a constant ear to the market.
What do you expect will be the next big trend in jewelry?
Continued shift to branded jewelry — jewelry compared to other consumer goods has a low penetration of branded products. We believe this shift will continue with the growth of incomes in emerging markets and as new consumers continue to seek ways to self-express themselves. Pandora is well suited to capitalize on this trend.
Similarly, while e-commerce has grown exponentially in other consumer-facing categories, e-commerce has been slower in jewelry. We believe, however, online will play an increasingly important role in the category into the future, both as a source for inspiration and information and a source for commerce. Social media will also play an increasingly important role — great medium for our consumers to express/share their individuality.
Have you always seen yourself as someone who would help lead a company? What would you say are some personality traits that have helped to shape your career?
My career prior to Pandora focused on helping my clients grow — whether it be through new strategies, market expansion, [mergers and acquisitions] or operational excellence. I was at a point in my career where I really wanted to make the jump from simply advising to doing, and Pandora was the right opportunity at the right time.
I enjoyed consulting because we focused solving our client's problems. I believe what made me particularly successful is the pragmatism I bring to solving problems. I had clients tell me time and time again — what I delivered were strategies they could execute on. Success starts with being a good listener — ask lots of questions so you truly understand the context a company is working in and therefore how to best have impact.
Successful leaders build strong teams around them. I invest time to mentor the people I work with. I have had many mentors over the years who have done the same for me. I had a special place in my heart for the women of McKinsey and had a group of women I made it my job to take the time to check-in with them, create opportunities for them and stretch them as leaders.
One of the best things about my experience at McKinsey is it got me comfortable with speaking in front of large groups. This is something that just takes practice and I had a lot of it when I was at the firm.
What are some of your favorite ways to spend time away from work?
I love being outdoors. I get a lot of energy from being outdoors, whether that is hiking, biking or skiing. My family and I try to spend time out West, specifically in Montana. I was born in Colorado and lived in Utah when I was a teenager, so the mountains are magical and spiritual place for me to unwind and recharge.