Since joining American Greetings, Christy has served in a series of executive leadership roles, including managing major retailer accounts, overseeing the business intelligence and marketing functions, and leading the Papyrus-Recycled Greetings division as its president. In her current role, Christy oversees sales, marketing and creative for the core and digital businesses as well as new business development and innovation.
Christy has been influential in gaining recognition for the Company’s market leadership position and has been instrumental in redefining advertising in the greeting card industry. In 2015, American Greetings was awarded the Silver Lion in Film at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity and four gold Effies, including the prestigious Grand Effie for the “World’s Toughest Job” campaign. She is excited about the opportunities ahead for American Greetings and its latest greeting card campaign, “Give Meaning.” Grounded in authenticity, this campaign has garnered favorable attention for the Company with retailers and consumers alike, both of whom continue to value the meaningful role that greeting cards play in their lives.
Christy earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Miami University in Ohio and a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in marketing from Cleveland State University. In addition to her role at American Greetings, Christy serves as the President of the Greeting Card Association and on the Board of Directors for the Prayers From Maria Foundation.
Carrying out the Company’s purpose of making the world a more thoughtful and caring place is what Christy views as the greatest privilege of her job. She resides in Cleveland, Ohio, with her husband, Dale, and their three children: Kate, Luke and Mason.
How has your previous employment experience aided your current role?
I’ve always been an advocate of gaining a broad base of experiences that build your skills and contribute to your “seasoned judgement” over time. Throughout my career I moved through more than ten different roles across businesses and functions that became the basis for my experience and have shaped my perspective on the business. As you move up in an organization, having perspective across a broad range – people, process, businesses, functions, and from different levels – is what ultimately prepares you for the responsibility.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?
Leadership is not a title or a box on an organization chart that automatically earns you respect from others. It is a set of choices you make that define you and ultimately the level of respect you earn in the workplace. The most important choices a leader makes revolve around people and their career development and advancement. When you are able to positively impact someone’s career, it is the most rewarding aspect of leadership.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I feel the phrase “work/life balance” is outdated. The reality for me is closer to work/life integration. It is something that I have to work at every day, and it changes as my children move through different life stages. The integration happened as technology evolved. Smart phones have enabled 24/7 communication, and the reality in some businesses is that anything can happen at any hour of the day. Technology has also enabled me to take moments during my workday and communicate with my children when they want to show me something or need help with homework. It is so important to me to stay connected to my children 24/7, just as the business often requires, so I try to make it work in both directions.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
For women who are also mothers, the biggest issue is finding equilibrium with work/life integration. It is usually not something that you can find a solution to that works for a long period of time. It is a commitment that women must actively manage as their children age and their family changes together. As a mother of twins, I remember thinking that coming home and caring for them after a long day at work was exhausting when they were infants and then toddlers. Now that they are in grade school, I think coming home after a long day at work and helping them with homework is exhausting. I have found that companies with flex schedules and employee networks like my employer has – a Parent’s Resource Network – are incredibly valuable in helping and supporting working mothers in the workplace.
How can we encourage more women to start their own business?
Encourage women to look for the inspiration! Technology has enabled so much innovation and so many new opportunities for women. When women have the opportunity to hear about the success stories of other women, it is both encouraging and inspiring. Stitch fix, Glossier Rent the Runway, Brandless – there are so many examples of woman who saw a business opportunity and pursued it.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
Throughout my career, mentors have been a critical part of my professional development. Having someone who is genuinely interested in seeing you succeed helping you navigate through different experiences and challenges is invaluable. When you take on bigger roles, they almost always come with new challenges. The best way to be prepared and work through them successfully is by talking with someone who has experienced similar challenges. Their advice can help you avoid the mistakes they made and give you more confidence to step up and deal with the issues.