Ladies We Love: Kate Renwick-Espinosa, Chief Marketing Officer
In this edition of Ladies We Love, we talk with the impressive and inspiring Kate Renwick-Espinosa, Chief Marketing Officer of VSP Global.SM
Tell us about your organization and your leadership role.
I’m the CMO for VSP Global. We’re an eyecare and eyewear company that helps people see by providing vision insurance to 57 million people in the U.S., manufacturing and distributing eyewear around the world and providing eyecare doctors with technology and other support for their practices. We’re unique in that we’re a $3.8 billion company that is a not for profit organization. We don’t have owners or shareholders, so our profits are invested back in to creating valuable products and services for our customers.
As a chief marketing officer, I am responsible for driving integrated marketing strategies and programs for VSP Global. I oversee enterprise-wide marketing functions, including integrated marketing, corporate communications, global charity and community outreach, design, advertising, insights and strategy.
My vision for VSP Global marketing is to understand market forces and industry trends better than the competition, and use that knowledge to develop services, programs and, products that increase value to clients and members, and support independent optometry.
Describe yourself in three words.
Optimistic, committed and energetic.
What's your favorite website?
Corporette.com and Ted.com
Think back to elementary school...what did you want to be when you grew up?
I didn’t think much about what I wanted to be when I grew up other than I knew I wanted to work and have my own money. I always had a running tab of what I owed my parents, while my brother seemed to always have a stash of money.
What was your college major? Did you stick with your plan?
I majored in Agricultural Economics and planned on doing accounting or another type of business-oriented work. After one summer of cost accounting for Tri-Valley Growers (at the time the world’s largest tomato cannery in the world!), I knew accounting wasn’t for me. I fell in love with Marketing and got my MBA with an emphasis in Marketing. I also minored in Organizational Studies and Child Development. Working with people and having two kids, I’ve used those skills much more than Agricultural Econonomics.
Name your greatest achievement in the workplace.
Building the first marketing team at VSP. I started the team in the early 90s, and it has evolved over the years to be a strong, talented group of marketing professionals who I am thrilled to work with.
What's your favorite career development, business advice or success book?
My favorite personal development book is Crucial Conversations, which helped me be more comfortable having those difficult conversations with employees, peers and my bosses.
Tell us about a hard lesson you had to learn.
That not everyone is going to like me and some people will make that judgment before they even know me. That was tough for me to learn because I have a natural tendency to give people the benefit of the doubt and want people to do the same for me.
You've just left the office on a weeknight. Where are you headed?
To one of my children’s baseball or soccer games or home for the second shift of work.
Whats one piece of advice would you give to the women of GlassHeel.com?
Live your life the way it works for you. Not based on other peoples’ expectations.
For career advice, I think it’s important for the women of GlassHeel.com to remember the following tips:
Say Yes First. Women often times shy away from higher employment opportunities because they believe they don’t have all of the required skills sets. It’s important for women to say YES to the opportunity first, be confident in your abilities and apply. Then ask for the materials you will need to succeed in the role.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask. Seeking perfection as an executive, a leader, a mother, etc. is a battle you will never win. Don’t be afraid to ask colleagues for their help and insight. Don’t be afraid to let others down for the sake of being perfect. Mistakes always help us grow.
Be Your Biggest Fan. Unlike our male counterparts, women are less likely to share their accomplishments with colleagues. Be proud of your unique ideas, campaigns, or placements and always take credit for the hard work you have completed.
Look for Sponsors, Not Just Mentors. A sponsor is someone who will put your name on the table and seek you out with new opportunities. Instead of a coach (or mentor) they act as a voluntary agent. Creating sponsor relationships is key in your career.
Who has had a significant impact on you as a leader? / Who is your mentor?
My mother had a significant impact on my self-confidence as a women and a leader. She is a feminist who had a stack of Ms magazines on her nightstand as I was growing up. She instilled in me that being a feminist didn’t mean you needed to act like a man and it didn’t mean you couldn’t decide to focus on taking care of kids or being a stay at home mom. Being a feminist meant having choices in your family and career.
What is your company doing to be socially responsible right now?
At VSP Global we’re helping children get the eyecare they need through our Sight for Students program, which serves more than 50,000 kids a year. And, we have other programs such as our Eyes of Hope eyewear donation program and our mobile eye clinics that travel to provide eyecare during disasters. I’m proud to work for company that has social responsibility as part of its DNA and culture.
When hiring, what is the key quality you look for in a candidate?
I look for someone who is naturally curious and will ask questions about the business that will make us all pause and think.
How do you start and end your day?
I start my day with a cup of Via at home or a trip by Starbucks before I drop off one of my kids at school. And, I end my day finishing a few emails after the kids go to bed.
At VSP for 20 years, Kate Renwick-Espinosa has been instrumental in expanding the role of marketing within the company, including rebranding multiple lines of business, developing new brands, launching new products, entering the online marketplace, and leveraging digital technology. A 2005 recipient of the “20 Most Influential Women in Optical” award, Kate has been a featured speaker and has published articles on reaching customers through marketing technology and social media.