Franchise Update Magazine Issue I, 2014 - Page 28

WOMEN AT 24 THE TOP Jo Kirchner President and CEO, Primrose Schools ance of both that inspires a continual love of learning in children. These “balanced approaches” to continual learning are also deeply embedded in the Primrose culture and business philosophy as well. How has your life experience made you the leader you are today? My parents instilled faith, values, confidence, and a strong work ethic in me. They inspired me to believe I could achieve anything I was willing to work hard enough to accomplish. Advice for young female CEO aspirants: Read, network, and read. Role models? Today, I am inspired by successful business leaders who are also passionately committed to giving back to others, like Warren Buffet and Melinda and Bill Gates. The Internet provides knowledge about anything and everything at your fingertips. There are magnificent books with rich knowledge about leadership and strategy to grow successful businesses. Second, network with leaders you aspire to be like. Listen to them, observe them, and learn from them. Management gurus or books that have deeply affected you: Lincoln on Leadership by Donald Phillips, Good to Great and Built to Last by Jim Collins, and Execution by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan. Leadership style: My leadership Has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life? Yes. I’ve had several strong mentors. One was a smallbusiness consultant I met through the national Chamber of Commerce who helped me establish and grow my marketing company, Creative Logistics. Another was a retired senior vice president from Delta Airlines. He worked with me for almost 10 years, beyond growing my company to joining Primrose, and then encouraging me to assume the CEO role there. He always encouraged me to think big, to think of Primrose one day being a brand like Delta, Coca-Cola, or Disney. He reminded me that all of these companies were, at one time, a beginning brand like Primrose. He inspired me to think long term and make the right decisions, keeping in mind both short- and long-term vision. Last, Paul Erwin, co-founder of Primrose, has also served as a mentor, teaching me the importance of a strategic systems approach, of process discipline, and passionate attention to the details to achieve consistent service excellence across multiple locations. SYSTEM REVENUE: $450 million NO. OF UNITS: 273 PUBLIC OR PRIVATE: Private GROWTH PLANS: Double in size in 6–7 years FOUNDED: 1982 BEGAN FRANCHISING: 1988 YEARS WITH COMPANY: 24 YEARS IN FRANCHISING: 24 INTERNATIONAL LOCATIONS: 0 Female leaders you admire: Marcy Erwin, Primrose’s other co-founder, encouraged me to lead from the heart with a focus on the children. She also inspired creating balance in all that we do. In fact, that’s how we established the name of our curriculum, Balanced Learning. Marcy believed in focused, teacher-guided learning, but she was also extremely creative and inspired innovation and exploration within the curriculum. We believe it is the bal- style is transformational balanced with a commitment to servant leadership. I set big visions and then work hard to inspire others, engage them with a focused plan, and then push with relentless determination to help them achieve the goals. I am driven to value the joy in making a difference for the greater good, to deliver best-in-class service excellence, and to achieve preeminent leadership and financial success for everyone affiliated with Primrose. Was becoming CEO of an organization part of your professional plan? No. I wanted to own my own business, and my business passion was marketing and public relations. Primrose was an account my company served. I decided to sell my company and join Primrose to help launch the franchise business because I was so inspired by the educational child care service they provided, the culture and the values of the organization, and the belief that there were so many working women who, like me, would want this quality early childhood experience and care for their children. Nine years later, when the founders decided to retire, they encouraged me to take continued on page 50 26 Franchiseupdate ISS U E I, 2 0 1 4