In Maine, we have many women leaders
who run very successful large and small businesses. Interestingly enough, many have followed in the footsteps of men who held these
positions previously. When you talk to employees in these organizations, you hear the stories
of how different the cultures feel as a result of
women assuming these leadership roles. The
cultures seem to enhance a stronger work-life
balance, a deeper focus on community as well
as a sense of increased internal collaboration. I
think this has everything to do with the type of
leaders women tend to be and to which I aspire
I currently serve on the advisory board for
Maine Women Magazine, which is a publication dedicated to the growth and development
of women in business, entrepreneurship, politics, nonprofits and change in ;aine. I am truly
amazed and inspired by the work women do in
general to provide great opportunities for both
men and women through mentorship and professional guidance.
Does being a woman inform your business decisions or
leadership style? If so, how?
I approach every business decision with collaboration in mind. I do think the best decisions are
reached after considering all perspectives and
points of view. I also think that once this perspective has been shared and understood, the
decision is mine to make. I try to lead my team in a supportive, empathetic and compassionate way. I also
believe in setting a good example with work ethic, values and honesty, and good humor and fun. I believe
this helps motivate my team to be imaginative and to be the best versions of themselves. I also believe in
sharing the fact that I am human and, as a result, I make mistakes. If I have a tough day, I often share this.
I think being humble and honest with your team is one of the best things you can do as a leader. We open
each week at our team meeting with either a company “mission moment” or an “ice breaker.” We learn a
great deal about each other, and we have the opportunity to share our values through this process, which
I think is critical to working in a collaborative team environment.
What challenges and opportunities does the pet industry present for women?
I think the industry presents more opportunities than challenges for women because it is an industry built
on relationships and partnerships, as well as the emotional bond between pets and humans. This industry is
a perfect fit for the unique capabilities, characteristics and strengths of women overall.
What advice do you have for women who are just getting started and aspire to be innovators and leaders in the pet industry?
I cannot underestimate the importance of strong observational skills. When I was beginning my career, I
paid attention to leaders I thought possessed the type of leadership skills I wanted to emulate. I watched
how they carried themselves in public and how they handled stress. It helped me frame the type of leader
I wanted to be. To this day, I am so thankful and appreciative of the incredible mentors, both men and
women, I have had in my career. If not for them, I would not be where I am today. I also make sure that I
tell them how important their in;uence has been in my development as a person and a leader.
I would also add that to be innovative, you need to be comfortable and capable of allowing yourself to
make mistakes. I remember thinking early on that making mistakes was a bad thing. The truth is, you will
never push yourself to be innovative if you are afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes are an important part
of the learning process. As long as you learn from them, you have improved your ability to make better
decisions in the future.
Of course women bring a unique perspective
to the pet industry, which historically has
been a more male-dominated industry. For
example, the majority of pet parents buying
higher-end premium pet food, like a raw or
freeze-dried diet, are women. So it makes
a lot of sense that we can design products,
campaigns, packaging, etc., that appeal to
our core customers.
What challenges and opportunities does the pet industry present
I think the industry has changed a lot in the last 15
years. The pet industry proved to be recession proof.
This coincided with the humanization of pets trend
to create a lot more excitement around the industry and attracted private equity and other sources
of capitalization, which, ultimately, creates more
Colleen McCracken with Tasker
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