Profile: Sheila Lukaszewski, Senior Director, Shopper Engagement, Kimberly-Clark
Sheila Lukaszewski discovered her love for understanding consumer and shopper behavior through the insights and analytics lens early on in her career. It was at her first job, working in marketing research for Spiegel catalog. During her tenure at the small catalog and e-commerce company, she took on her first leadership role as group manager, corporate marketing.
She then moved to Kraft Foods Group, where she had more than a decade-long tenure working in insights, customer and shopper engagement, and category leadership. It was during this time she realized another passion, that of working in the world of consumer packaged goods. In 2015, Lukaszewski joined Kimberly-Clark and today is the company’s senior director, shopper engagement. She is one of three Women of Excellence honorees in the “Leadership” category.
What have you learned about leadership through your various roles?
Lukaszewski: When I became a group manager at Spiegel, I realized a new love in my career, and that was around leadership and building effective teams, and then thinking about how you help a team drive business results. My first role at Kraft (leading the consumer insights team for the Food & Family CRM program) leveraged my insights and analytics background, and really broadened my perspective about the use of data. That role took my leadership capabilities to the next level. It was a bigger team, with many more stakeholders, and the team was touching more parts of the business. Leading a team that spanned the Kraft portfolio was a big part of my leadership journey.
What are your current responsibilities?
Lukaszewski: Kimberly-Clark’s shopper engagement team includes shopper marketing, shopper insights and category management. Each of these teams has a headquarters team as well as a field-based team. This has developed me as a leader to be better able to flex my style and coach a bigger team – and to learn how to continue to influence sideways, which I think we all need to do. These teams are all connected and complementary but also have distinct priorities and ways of working, which has helped me flex further to be able to coach across these capabilities.
The true value of this group is bringing together our capabilities to understand shopper behavior and what matters to shoppers, but also to activate it and really accelerate shopper engagement by bringing these capabilities to bear to help our retail partners win with their shoppers.
What qualities of leadership do you bring to work every day?
Lukaszewski: I embrace the idea of servant leadership. As a leader, my role is to help my team be successful while continuing to develop and enhance their individual capabilities. At some point it’s important to stop viewing yourself as an individual contributor and start moving toward leading. I focus on encouraging my team to continue to learn and push themselves past what they think their limits are, and I help to break down barriers for them. What makes a great team – and is the gestalt of bringing together a bunch of great people – is when you can continue to accelerate their individual capabilities.
What in your career pushed you to be a strong leader?
Lukaszewski: There were so many things along the way, but in my most recent role, moving to be a leader of leaders and coaching them to help their teams prioritize, delegate and continue to build the capabilities of their teams. It has been a new frontier for me. Now I’m trying to coach others to step away from the details and lead their teams by orchestrating what they need their leader to do, not just do their work. My priorities now are all about the people and building talent but also leading my team in building capabilities that are relevant in a changing world while continuing to build partnerships, which is critical with both our retail partners and within our organization. What we’re really having a lot of fun doing is innovating and learning in these digital spaces.
What excites you most about where shopper marketing is heading?
Lukaszewski: Across my team for shopper engagement, everything is changing so radically and evolving so rapidly. We’re very focused on performance marketing now. There are so many touchpoints on the shopper journey; it’s not a straight line anymore but a space with a robust set of touchpoints, including reviews, grocery pickup opportunities, social media, etc. The majority of our shopper marketing activation is digital, which presents so many more opportunities for engagement with the shopper. That’s exciting because it’s a revolution and we’re kind of all learning our way through it together.