Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana board member discusses her success

Brenda Barnes, former CEO of Pepsi-Cola and COO of Sara Lee, spoke at Augustana College on Oct. 2 where she emphasized universal respect and discipline as the tools to success.
According to Augustana College’s website, Barnes has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 2012. She was CEO Pepsi-Cola North America and was named on Fortune magazine’s list of the world’s most powerful women in the 1990s.
“I began in a time when women were pretty scarce,” said Barnes. “I worked harder and did better work.”
The lecture was in the Olin Center for Educational Technology auditorium with over 150 present; the majority of them were students. The largest group in attendance was upperclassmen.
Barnes pulled from personal experiences to show students how far drive and valuing others can take them.
When she worked at Wilson Sporting Goods, she created an automatic ordering system as well as sports bags that sold out.
“When you’re given a job, you have to make it bigger than it was supposed to be,” said Barnes.
Barnes said she learned this during her first real job working the night shift at a post office sorting letters, where she realized the importance of the individual.
“The superiors were not treating everyone well,” said Barnes. “These were people with families and with knowledge of their job. How can we make it enjoyable to them?”
Barnes said that she would look to ensure employees felt comfortable and embraced.
When Barnes graduated college in 1975 there was a recession, and she worked as a waitress. She said that despite her degree in Business Administration and Economics, she still did not know what she wanted to do.
“Brenda makes the students think that anything is possible,” said Pareena Lawrence, provost of the college. “I feel this broadened their horizons, next time though it might help to do more promotions and have more teachers make assignments for it.”
Barnes said it is this attitude that helped her rise in the business world. She said that when she had a stroke, people from all different areas of the world and positions reached out to her.
“It was encouraging to me to see an Augustana graduate who has become so successful,” said senior Tressa Czysz. “It was inspirational to see a woman who values hard work, others and her family to such a great extent.”

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Augustana board member discusses her success