The paradox of leaders in new roles is that the lessons they learned in their last jobs are often irrelevant in their new jobs – but they apply them anyway.
How to Be a VP
Welcome to our new blog series, “How to be a VP,” by Distribution Strategy Group Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer Ian Heller.
In his long career, Ian’s served in these roles:
> VP Marketing, Grainger Industrial Supply
> EVP, eBusiness, GE Capital Rail
> SVP, Marketing and Merchandising, Newark Electronics
> VP Marketing, North America, Corporate Express
> VP Marketing, HD Supply White Cap
Ian’s never been the CEO of a distribution company. Then again, most distributor employees will never achieve that lofty level but many more can realistically become Vice Presidents. A quick and unscientific check on LinkedIn suggests that Watsco has a dozen VPs, Crescent Electric employs about 30, and Grainger has about 100 of all types (senior, executive, regional, district, etc.).
These three companies each have only one actual CEO.
And yet, there has been vastly more ink (well, virtual ink) spilled about “how to be a CEO” (2,380,000 results on Google) vs. “how to be a VP” (297,000) or “how to be a vice president” (just 9, oddly).
Our hypothesis is that while many aspire to be CEOs, they tend to ignore what it takes to become a VP first – which is almost always a necessary stop along the way.
At Distribution Strategy Group, we intend to close that gap with this series by our resident expert – the person who’s done the job at four publicly-held distributors. The good news (if you like Ian’s writing) is that he has about 50 tips for you, each of which we will publish as a blog. The bad news is that if you don’t like Ian’s writing, well … you will soon have 50 more things to hate.
Either way, we hope you’ll weigh in with your thoughts. You can do that by leaving a comment at the end the blog. You can also look for these entries to appear as LinkedIn posts and “Like” or comment there. And, of course, you’re always welcome to email Ian at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ian tries to respond to everyone who comments, and we welcome a wide variety of responses. Try to keep it respectful but don’t hold back.