After just one month at her new sales job at Costco, the CEO promoted Becky to Head of Global, running the business across 10 countries. In part 2 of our new live event series – Scaling Mentorship – Becky Frankiewicz, President of ManpowerGroup North America, talks about how she was able to accelerate her career time and time again as she rose the ranks to become an executive leader.
Two main themes come up through out the episode. The importance of finding mentors and people that you can learn from to help you make the right decisions, and the value of being willing to take on challenges that other people avoid and jobs that other people have failed in.
We get into specific stories about how Becky navigated difficult moments in her career and what she did to be able to change jobs multiple times, with directly actionable advice for anyone that’s looking to make a change in their lives and do something they really want.
4:46 Today on the show we have Becky Frankiewicz who is the President of ManpowerGroup North America.
5:34 As a President at this company and in your role specifically, what would you say is something that might surprise people about your job?
5:45 I would say that it’s super fun. Yes, the hours are sometimes long but it’s fun because I get to meet people and I get to celebrate individual accomplishments. I’ve never been in a company where my personal purpose and the purpose of the enterprise is so aligned.
6:43 What might some people not know about the day to day of your work? We know that you’re a leader and you make difficult decisions. What does Becky do when she gets to work?
7:01 My calendar is jammed, and I get a lot of emails; that part is standard. But the part that is surprising is when one of the people who works for you sends me an email. I personally hear a lot from people that we put to work and clients.
8:05 Tell us a little bit about your decision-making process. How did you get into that role and what drew you to that industry?
9:00 I’ve always loved to learn. We are all salespeople, you’re selling either something from our company or selling yourself and your capabilities everyday. No matter how good the AI is, you can’t always predict the human behavior.
11:25 Your first job at college, you were there for seven years and you were doing fieldwork. Can you think back when you were doing the fieldwork when you had a difficult moment?
13:30 I came out of undergrad and was assigned 60 stores. First thing I had to learn was the value in the conversation. So one story is that I lived with my parents after graduating and one of the managers left a foul-mouth voice message in my parent’s answering machine about a customer who didn’t liked something I had done, and I came back to the customer the next day and apologized first and then asked her how I could do better.
15:40 Owning up to your mistakes is the best way to gain trust. How do you find balance in saying sorry too much vs. too little?
16:00 It’s easy for me. If I’m wrong, I say I’m sorry and if I’m not, I’m not gonna say it. I don’t worry about too much or too little it’s more on my personal integrity.
But of course, I will also let you know if I’m right.
17:28 It’s actually a very typical path for people to do consulting and or investment banking. And then ultimately maybe get into something to be a leader or to be an executive. But for you I don’t know if you necessarily knew you wanted to be an executive, did you at that point?
17:43 No, I loved Procter & Gamble and my time there. The only reason I left and it’s the first time in my career that I prioritized my personal life over my profession. I was pregnant with my daughter. So I left and went into consulting because in consulting nobody cared where you live. I learned in P&G to listen actively in a way that didn’t put my biased in the way that I could.
What I learned in consulting is that I’m okay not knowing how to solve a problem when I walk through the door. I know I’ll find the right people to help me figure it out.
21:15 I’m curious because for a lot of people who have been in a sales role or whatever role for a long time, how were you able to make that transition and why do you think people trusted your decisions?
21:57 Yes, I’d say if I’m really honest with you, um, the name Proctor & Gamble carried a lot of weight at the time. It’s the fact that I had that experience and I had done sales and marketing inside P&G gave me instant credibility and so we shouldn’t kid ourselves. The company that we keep does say something about us. And so that was a benefit that I had. But also that I think the executives, you know, we all get first impressions pretty quickly and I think they got a first impression pretty quickly that she may not know, but she’s going to work what she’s gonna outwork anybody to figure it out. And that was true.
22:52 Can you talk about some maybe one key mentoring moment in your life, not your whole life, but maybe the time that you had in consulting where it seems like you finally realized your abilities maybe in a little bit wider way than you had defined it before you, before you had, you were thinking of yourself as proctor and gamble sales. So it opened up your mind a little bit now as you realize where you want your career to go, how did you find the people to actually advise and mentor you and get behind you? And what were maybe some of those moments that were pivotal in helping people the rest of your career?
23:40 Yeah, so I’m, I’m not afraid or concerned about asking for perspective. Again, it goes back to that I learned, I was kind of okay being wrong, but you still have to deliver, so you better find people that are willing to coach you and develop you. And so really early on I would go up to somebody after a presentation and say, how do you think I did? So how P&G trains you is after every sales meeting somebody would ride with you, your manager or whoever. And you would say, here are a couple of things I did well and something I could have done better. So you have to self evaluate and then the manager with you does the same.
25:38 A mentor’s job is really to walk alongside you and give you feedback and give you candor. And I’ve been fortunate to enroll people in my life that were willing to do that for me. But they’re, it’s a reciprocal relationship. You have to be willing to hear it because if you ask for it and then you’re closed on hearing it, then you’ll never get feedback again.
26:07 How do you go from asking somebody to, let’s say, help your, advise you on a specific issue? Like, Hey, I’d like for you to tell me, teach me a little bit about the P&L and how that drives the business, to that becoming a sustained mentorship relationship. Is it about follow up?
In my experience, mentorship has to go two ways. If not, it won’t be sustained. In other words, if it’s only about me getting better, the other person is not going to be interested for too long. And so it’s a two way street, that is what makes it sustainable
26:58 What would you say then to the folks in this room who want to find mentors or have access to people like you?
27:21 Yeah. So I, I actually have found that again, human nature wants to help. We want to help by the nature of who we are. The issue is we don’t ask like all of you know, I’ll frequently say, hey, you know, email me or send me a message. I already did that today. About 10% of you will do it. So it’s, we don’t take opportunity and we don’t ask. And that’s the biggest challenge, I think. And so if you’re in any size company, it is a compliment to another person to ask them for their perspective on you. And I’ve never in my life, not one time asked someone to be a mentor for me, and they’ve said, no, not one time.
28:25 One of the things that we’ve heard you talk about is that you were never afraid when you saw an opportunity, let’s say for promotion or for a new job to raise your hand and say why not me. Can you tell us a specific example of when and how you were able to do that successfully?
28:42 Yeah, so after I left P&G I went into consulting, and eventually left consulting to go to PepsiCo. And there’s a whole story there as well. I was in the finance department working in strategy, but PepsiCo prides themselves on their brand marketers. Now remember I had done marketing as well at, at P&G, but honestly it didn’t really count unless you had done it at PepsiCo. So I was in the Finance Organization leading strategy and I wanted to move to marketing, you know, but I’m telling you very, you know, like the best colleges with the best degrees as all that PepsiCo would hire and marketing. And so what I started doing is I found a mentor in marketing and said, I’d like to move to marketing. And so help me, you know, find ways to demonstrate my marketing capability in this context of PepsiCo’s marketing.
29:28 And so I was fortunate to do that. And then I started carving myself into projects that were outside of, and I loved my strategy time by the way, but I wanted, I wanted to be a general manager. I learned by doing. So I wanted to move across the, um, so I took on projects that had marketing components to them as part of my development because I asked, I asked, and then ultimately the way I got into marketing is two people before me had failed on a very strategic initiative that the, that the president and CEO had for the business. And I raised my hand and said, I’ll take it on. And I’m sure they’re thinking, well, we’ve had everybody else try, so why not you? So their why not me was a different tone, but I’ve been willing to take on the jobs that people have failed at before me because I want a shot. And sometimes you have to be willing to take that lateral move to get the experience you’re seeking.
30:16 Hmm. Well, I really love that you said that because Sergei and I had been talking about this topic for the last few weeks. We were on a show this morning called the Jordan Harbinger show and we talked about just that, how to change your career. I’m pretty sure you didn’t listen, but you made exactly the same points that we made, which is twofold. You find the mentors within the company that can help you kind of guide the light and show you the way and then you do the actual work. So within your roles, hopefully you can do at least an element of the job that you want to have in the future. And if not, maybe you can go to higher up or somebody laterally, like you said, and try to take on those responsibilities. That was something that that’s uh, that’s perfect. What you said I think is really relevant to everybody here and everybody listening. But I want to back up because you mentioned a story and that’s a story of you getting to Pepsi. Yes. No, I’m not going to ruin the whole story, but I do know that involves the CEO of Pepsi. Irene, she was the first female president and CEO of Frito Lay. It’s owned by PepsiCo.
31:10 So, I mean, you essentially got a call from her and had a meeting and I want you to tell us how that went, how you even got that opportunity, but then also how that kind of shaped your thinking and how you were going to recruit talent as well in the future. Because I’m sure you do a lot of that.
31:25 Yeah. So actually that, you know, it’s crazy the experiences that change your life. This story changed my life much like the decision to leave P&G for personal reasons. It’s that same type of bigness in my life. So PepsiCo had offered me three jobs before that I had turned down for various reasons. I was pregnant ones, other times it wasn’t gonna work out. Um, so I assumed that the road between me and them was, you know, they had this great tracking system and I had giant x’s around my name. So the third time I interviewed, it still wasn’t what I thought was right. I was on deck for partner in consulting, which at the time as a female was truly unprecedented. Um, there were probably 15 of us globally that had the opportunity to be female partners. And so my career was going very well, but I wasn’t positive.
32:08 That’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. And the model requires a bit of a financial commitment. I wasn’t sure. So I cold called Pepsi. So back to sales skills. I cold called PepsiCo and I’m sure it was kind of crazy cause I found one of their internal recruiters, which I didn’t know existed. So now that we’re in this business, y’all can all laugh at me about that. But I didn’t know something like that actually existed. But somehow I found this guy and said, hey, I’m not sure there is anything. I’m not sure I want. So I was really super careful. And the next thing I know Irene Rosenfeld’s office called me and I was on an assignment and consulting and I thought it was a joke cause I mean come on like why in the world is she calling me?
32:45 I was a mid level manager at the time and I wasn’t sure why Irene Rosenfeld would call me. And she went on to be the CEO of Kraft Mondelez. And so she’s had an amazing career in is a remarkable leader. But the fact that she called me and wanted to see me, I was like, oh well this is interesting. So I went in and spent an hour and a half in her office having a conversation. Now Irene wouldn’t mind me telling this story. She’s maybe 5’2″, but I wouldn’t want to meet her in a dark alley cause she’s fierce. I mean she could take me and most of you. She’s a tough lady and she carried herself as a tough lady. So I was a little intimidated. But we’re having this conversation. I can see the fire, which we’re in Dallas and I was thinking, why do you have the fire on?
33:24 But she asked me a question that has changed my life. She said, what job do you want? And she’s the president and CEO of this company. I’m a mid-level manager, I’ve spent an hour and a half talking to her and her capstone question was what job do you want? And instead of having a moment of panic because I didn’t know their whole structure cause she, you know, she wanted to know what would get you to come here. I answered in a different way.
I said I don’t know your structure but let me tell you what I’m uniquely good at.
And I had never in my life articulated that I had never honestly thought a lot about it. But I went on to articulate what I think my unique product benefit is in terms of consumer goods. Like what makes me unique. And the next day they offered me two, not one, two amazing jobs in whole different functions in the organization. And that’s why I chose to join PepsiCo. And by the way, I joined in finance because consulting had taught me that the P&L predicts behavior. And so I specifically want it to be in finance to learn the industry and learn the business. Because I knew from consulting, if I knew where money was made, I’d know how decisions are made and that’s why I finance.
34:37 Wow, that sounds so deliberate. You know, one of the things we talk about in our show for if you’re preparing for important pitch meetings or sales meetings or meeting with a leader like this is to actually think about what questions they might ask and practice answering them. Because when you’re in a situation like this, not everybody can, so confidently reply with a strong answer. So we do this still to this day is we practice the things that we want to say to people if we know we’re going to have an important situation. But what you handled so well there and it speaks to your, your sales experience is that you, you knew that you didn’t have to answer her question in exactly the same way that she asked you, you were transparent. Again, goes back to the transparency of the fact that I don’t know the structure, but here’s what I’m good at. And that’s, and then you gave her the information to be able to then make a decision about what job you should have, which is really cool. Really cool. And so in your time at Pepsi, you, you continue leveling up and getting more and more leadership positions. What is it about you that made people recognize that you should be the one in some of these positions?
35:43 Yes. I don’t, I don’t think I experienced that to the end of my time at PepsiCo. And so I’ll talk about that. Um, I believe in, you know, I learned by doing, I shared that with you. So I do best when I’m just immersed and I’m okay not knowing. And so that fear of, oh my gosh, what if I fail? I’m isn’t it? I have it, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not debilitating to me cause I have enough history with myself to know I’m gonna find some smart people that helped me navigate through this until I can figure it out. Um, but I would say consulting taught me how to get pull from myself. So how to generate, you know, cause it’s taught, consulting is all about billable hours. You have to get yourself billable.
36:21 Sorry, I had to go current day for a moment there. Um, but I, but I learned how to get pulled for myself and so I would work my way in to different functions. So an interesting part of this story about, you know, embracing the power that you have. I, when I first joined PepsiCo, remember I was up for partner, big job, potential for lots of money, very unique opportunity. And I met with the head of the VP of HR at the time and her name is Becky too. And I just saw her a couple of weeks ago. Um, but I told her, I said, hey Becky, I want to change functions. Like I want to move across functions. I want to go from finance to marketing to sales, to operations. And she said, oh, we don’t do that here. And I didn’t know her at the time. So you can imagine I just made this huge decision and I’m now like, what have I done to myself?
37:05 Like this was really bad. But then she fought. So I followed up and said,
I’m not asking you to make the way. I’m just asking you not to stand in the way.
And to her credit, she said, well, make that commitment. Now what I know now, what I learned very soon after she had no ride at all to make that commitment to me like literally none. Cause she had none of those giant company and nobody can make those kinds of commitments. But she did it. And if she would’ve said anything else, I would’ve left and gone back, probably in had a much different career path. And so it’s about embracing your power. Like take the ownership for what you have rights over and say it because I’m changed. My life has changed as a result of that. So it, um, but I’ve spent my whole life in terms of how you get pull. I know how to get pulled for myself. And that comes from taking the jobs often. I’ve taken so many jobs that people before me had been fired from literally fired. And I don’t take them because I think I’m better. I take them because one, it’s my way in and I am an informed risk taker. Like I’ll do the homework to understand is there potential for success? Not Guaranteed, but is there potential for success? And that’s how I’ve built my career, is taking those jobs that honestly nobody else wanted.
38:11 Can you remember maybe a specific time where you did this? Because like, you know, you see a position, for example, that’s opening up and you’re getting into planning and strategy motive. How are you going to execute your way into getting that role? Who you reach out? Who Do you reach out to you? How do you get people behind you? Because a big roles, important roles are going to be competitive. There’s going to be people that stand in your way even if they make that unqualified commitment. So how do, tell us a about how that happened. Just,
38:35 So I moved from Dallas to Chicago, with PepsiCo to take on innovation and strategy lead for the Quaker food business before I got the chance to run the whole business. And when I was there, I had done a great job in that role and it was time for my next rotation and the Gatorade sales job was open and at the time of this isn’t one of those that nobody wanted. This is like the job, I mean it’s Gatorade who doesn’t want to work on Gatorade? Like you get to meet all the stars and there’s big marketing budgets. Like it’s the job. That job was open and this other little job called the Costco sales lead was open and I needed to do sales because I hadn’t done my sales rotation at PepsiCo. Of course I had experienced before that. So I knew I need to do sales.
39:19 So back to mentoring, I called a gentleman who was a mentor for me at the time and I said, John, here’s what I’m faced with. And he gave me such amazing advice because come on now. I’m just saying it was Gatorade. Let’s all remember Gatorade. And then Costco, by the way, at the time was a new customer team for PepsiCo, new for probably six years and had never made budget in the history of the team. Never. And so it was the job that people were afraid of taking. So I called John and I said, here’s the situation. And he said, Becky, there are five people that are as qualified as you for the Gatorade job and only you are uniquely qualified for the Costco Job. So take the job that you will get the credit or the blame for it succeeding or failing because it’s already doing well.
40:01 So you’re going to walk into something doing well and try to keep it going well. And there’s a lot of people that can do that job, but you’re uniquely qualified for Costco. because of my background in nutrition, and that’s the angle that Costco has in the market. And so I ended up taking the Costco job, which was the right decision. And let me tell you what happened then because he, he was so smart in the guidance he gave me. I went into the client because we had not been successful at PepsiCo. They did not like us, didn’t feel like they needed us. I asked the client for a mentor in the client, I said, listen, if I’m successful, it’s only because I’ve made you more successful. I realized PepsiCo hasn’t been successful here. Is there somebody that can help me navigate?
40:42 I’m not asking for extra credit or I’m not asking for deals to come my way, but is there somebody that can mentor me from the Costco side? And Costco said yes, like we had never asked before. So people thought I was crazy. They said yes. And by the way, her name is Nancy. We’re Facebook friends to this day. And when I left she said, you should write a book on how to call on Costco. And my response is, I was only good because you taught me how to be. And so the other funny thing about Costco is I went in at a certain level, so it was a promotion for me. Um, but within a month of being there, you know, Costco’s very familial. I got to meet the CEO and I walked into his office, his name is Craig Jelinek. And he said, um, you’re going to be our global head for Costco Cause I was just us, cause you’re gonna be the global head for Costco.
41:23 And I was like, oh no, no, we have great people in all these countries that can service you. I’ll connect you with the right people. No worries. And he said, you misunderstood me. We have 10 countries and you’re going to lead them all for PepsiCo. And I was like, Oh, you might want to tell somebody else that besides me. So he did. He called my boss and said she’s going to be our global head. And so within a month of taking this crazy job that nobody else wanted, I had a mentor to help me and I was responsible for 10 countries and I got a promotion. And so it’s a little bit around, you know, just embracing the opportunities as they come your way.
41:53 That’s great advice. You do have to embrace opportunities and oftentimes it might feel uncomfortable and you’re certainly going to be out of your comfort zone. And doing something like that. You didn’t know how to run to contempt countries, uh, but you’re willing to take the plunge. And I think that’s a great segue to the final part of the story, of course, which is you ultimately coming to ManpowerGroup. But I want the focus of this last part of the story of, you know, oh, of course, I want to hear how that happened, but also I want the focus to be around this. You’re a female leader and, uh, every single person faces adversity at some point. It’s not easy for anybody, but obviously for women. And we advise a lot of women, for example, in entrepreneurial space. And one of the things a lot of them come to us with is dealing with investors.
42:34 It’s a male dominated area, let’s face it. And so there’s a lot of, uh, maneuvering that you have to do sometimes, unfortunately. And so what would you say, then as you continue to be a leader through all those roles at Pepsi, and then ultimately coming to the helm here as a President of North America? Uh, what would you say to all the other, uh, women that you work with in terms of how they can navigate some of these difficult situations? And maybe you can tell it from a specific story in your career, but, I think that’d be a great thing to end on because it’s relevant for a lot of us because all of us will face adversity at some point or another.
43:16 Yeah. And I’d say I’m pleased to say it’s no longer just a female conversation. Like men are increasingly spending time with your families and outside interests and, and so it’s, it’s actually, a more gender neutral situation still. When I grew up though in business, it was at a time I worked for a couple of female leaders, as you heard. Um, I was told you can’t have it all literally, unequivocally in front of a room like this. Leaders would say to me, you cannot have it all. You’re going to have to make sacrifices of your family for your work, which in part is true, but the tone of it was, it’s going to be a constant sacrifice. There will not be balanced. And I early on said I reject that idea. I reject the idea that I cannot be a great wife, a great mother, and a great employee.
43:59 I am practical enough to know I cannot do those all at the same time. However, I can be great at something one day and you know, average at the next day. And in the end it all averages out. And so the biggest career change I ever made was in my own mind. So I shifted my mindset that I could be successful at it all, no matter what anybody told me. And then I started observing what was happening around me. So a couple of you have heard this story, but I noticed that the men about three 15 on Tuesday afternoon would leave and they would say, oh, I’m going to coach Timmy or Susie’s basketball game. And the ladies be like, Oh, you’re such a good dad. Never was like awesome. And then about 15 minutes later the lady start disappearing and there’s nothing said. They’re saying nothing.
44:42 And I’m single time, no kids. So I leaned over to one of my mentors and I said, okay, this is weird luck where all the women going? Like is there something I should be doing? Like oh no, they’re going to, you know, coach their kids teams or whatever. And I was like, well why don’t they talk about it like what’s going on? And so from that moment, because I was a young woman trying to figure out how this was all going to work, I decided I was going to live out loud. And until this day, from that day, to this day, as I sit with you, I do not hide. I am a mother of three remarkable daughters. I look back, I have a freshman in college and I can honestly say to you, I don’t regret, I wasn’t at everything. I wasn’t, but you know what? She didn’t really need me at everything.
45:18 She would have liked it, but she didn’t need it. I was at the things that were most important to her. I don’t have regrets and I have not hidden what I’ve done. And I’m grateful to work in a company that you can be your full self and not have to hide from me. It’s children. For some people it’s pets. For some people just cause I want to rank train for a marathon and I’ve got to get my night run in because 10 miles at four 30 whatever it is, I’m so grateful. We’re increasingly working in an in a country where you can do everything that you want to do and still be a great employee. So that’s very personal to me and specifically for all you ladies in the room, please don’t hide your life. Don’t hide the rest of your life from your work life because the younger ladies, they’re watching you.
45:57 I love that. One of the things you said early on in the interview is even though you’re always transparent and upfront and you knew how to admit when you were wrong, you would also let people know when you’re right. Yeah, and I think that is a great place end here today. So important for everyone in the room here to know that at times where it matters, you should assert yourself and know that Becky is a testament to the fact that nothing in this life happens by accident. We can pave our way forward. Thank you so much Becky for coming on our show.