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Women in Business Q&A: Margaret Morey-Reuner, Director, Strategic Partnerships, Business Development and Values Marketing, Timberland

02/02/2016 13:59 GMT | Updated 02/02/2017 10:12 GMT

Margaret Morey-Reuner currently serves as the director of strategic partnerships and business development for Timberland's licensing team. In this role, Margaret is responsible for developing innovative partnerships and testing new business models that align with Timberland's vision to be the largest and most sustainable outdoor lifestyle brand on earth. She also works with existing licensed categories to maximize the impact of cross category marketing initiatives and sales opportunities.

Margaret also manages values marketing, working with Timberland's corporate social responsibility team and marketing leaders around the world to help bring stories about the company's social and environmental values to life for consumers in the digital, retail and social media spaces.

Prior to joining Timberland's licensing team, Margaret was the senior manager of global brand marketing, overseeing global management for men's footwear, including the Earthkeepers®, Classics, Outdoor Adventure and Timberland Boot Company collections.

Margaret joined Timberland in 2006 as global brand manager for Mion Footwear, a former division of Timberland. In this role, she oversaw all brand and wholesale marketing and supported the sales organization with their go-to market initiatives. Prior to joining Timberland, Margaret was the global marketing services manager for Dunham Bootmakers (a New Balance brand).

Margaret graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Ohio University and earned her master's degree in sports administration from Ohio University as well. Margaret lives in Massachusetts with her husband.

How has your work experience made you the leader you are today?

It's taught me that doing well and doing good aren't mutually exclusive and successful initiatives that prove this out are definitely within the realm of possibility. But in order to achieve an acceptable balance, you have to be open to exploring new, innovative or non-traditional approaches and subsequently be adept at selling-in the resulting ideas to all levels of stakeholders in your organization. And to do that well, it's critical to put in the time and effort to get to know people across the organization and at all levels and to be able to showcase the business and brand upside of the proposed initiative. Prove that it's not just a "nice to have" but also a "need to have."

How has your previous employment experience aided your position at Timberland?

My experience working as a principal at a marketing agency has been invaluable in that it's given me the ability to strategically explore challenges and opportunities from different angles and measure impact from both an internal and external perspective. The creative process at an agency drives a lot of "pie in the sky" thinking and that has definitely aided me in my approach to imagining innovative, strategic partnerships that address our commitment to social and environmental stewardship that are good for the brand and the business.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Timberland?

The biggest highlight has been leading Timberland's role in building a successful sustainable agroforestry model in Haiti over the past five years. We set out to plant five million trees in five years using an exit-aid strategy that would allow whatever we built to sustain through a social business model. That project has led to the development of a self-funded 3,200-member cooperative called the Smallholder Farmers Alliance, which is a successful social business that is generating positive environmental, social and economic impact for the participants.

The biggest challenge has been cracking the code for successful consumer engagement in Timberland's values-related initiatives while we simultaneously rebuild the brand and work to elevate our style credibility in the eyes of the consumer. Consumers want to do business with brands they trust but if the stuff doesn't look good and perform well, the "Green" or "Good" proposition won't be a factor in purchase consideration. It's an ongoing challenge but as we continue to be successful in bringing great looking and well performing outdoor lifestyle products to market, we are seeing that consumers will choose us over the competition because of our "Green" and "Good" ethos.

Why is it so important that businesses support social issues?

One of my all-time favorite quotes, which is from David Dellinger, is, "Every act we perform today must reflect the kinds of human relationships we are fighting to establish tomorrow." If businesses don't contribute to the equilibrium between the economy and the environment, but rather subscribe to the idea that there's a trade-off between economic success and the well-being of our society and environment, then they won't be around for long. Every business creates a negative impact on the environment, the question is, "Do they wish be a part of the required solution to create a sustainable future?"

What advice can you offer women who are seeking a career in business strategy?

Go for it! Don't be afraid to subscribe to open and courageous communication in the workplace but do so with diplomacy and awareness. Build relationships across the organization from top to bottom and bottom top. And always, always, walk with your head held high and greet people with a smile.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

By focusing on the things I can control and not worrying about those I can't. By being totally committed to wellness. I work out at 5:30 a.m. four days a week when I'm home. And when I travel, I always try to exercise in the morning. It sets such a great tone for my day at work. When I'm at work, I work; and when I'm at home with family and friends, I'm committed to being with them, in the moment. Good planning and prioritization comes in handy too. During hectic times at work, I always try to set expectations with my husband so he is fully aware of the time I need to devote to Timberland. And whenever and wherever possible, I try to spend time outside. It's refreshing, liberating and provides really valuable perspectives.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?

That's a tough question for me to answer because I work for a company that strongly supports career development and advancement of men and women. But I think the fact that people in our culture are still asking the question, "Why do females still earn less than males holding the same job?" is a huge issue that shouldn't exist.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

The mentors I've had and have in my life have contributed immensely to my success. When you have the luxury of being able to build a relationship with someone who has incredible experiences from which to draw and makes an unconditional commitment to providing guidance and perspective, you not only gain insight to the possibilities before you, but you gain an invaluable level of confidence that can empower you to go seek out your dreams and realize your aspirations. That's how my mentors have made a difference for me.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?

I have a twin sister, Megan, who is the chief advancement officer at a very prestigious college. She manages fundraising and alumni relations. She is so skilled at balancing her role at work with her roles as a wife and a mom of two wonderful kids. She's also an ultra-marathoner and a great friend to a lot of people. She has commanded the respect of her colleagues and peers and friends and family because she's a phenomenal communicator, she's honest, direct and fair and she has a great sense of humor. I admire her because she has lived her life and built her successful career by being true to herself.

What do you want Timberland to accomplish in the next year?

I want us to master the integration of our consumer-facing values story telling into our global brand marketing so consumers can have a clearer view of our CSR-related efforts and the positive impacts those efforts have on the communities in which we operate; the people we work with and who work with us; and on the environment. The more businesses can effectively expose consumers to the commerce and justice proposition, the more prominent it will become on the consumers' list of purchasing considerations.