Graybar Electric Co. appointed Kathleen Mazzarella as their chief executive officer on the first of June in 2012. She was also made the President of the company, and later in January of 2013, she was named chairman. Kathleen, more informally known as Kathy, is an interesting executive and she stands as an inspiration for women who aspire to achieve success in the business world. She rose to a high position of leadership in her chosen profession and here are 10 things that you didn’t know about her which are well worth knowing.
1. She was recognized by Fortune 500
Ms. Mazzarella is one of the few female CEOs in the elite grouping of Fortune 500 companies. She is one of just 32 women to lead a Fortune 500 company in an arena which is dominated by men. This shows the world that she is not only a skilled and competent professional but that she also has the tenacity and self-confidence to break through the glass wall which so often holds women back from entering the upper echelons of corporate leadership in business.
2. Kathleen is well connected in the business world
Ms. Mazzarella is a savvy leader who stays connected with the trends and events taking place in multiple sectors of the business world. In addition to her busy work leading Graybar Electric Co Inc, she also serves on multiple boards for other companies. She is chairman of Graybar since 2013, as well as a board member of the Cigna Corporation, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the St. Louis Club, the NAW Institute, the Stl Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association, the NAED Channel Advantage Partnership Council and Express Scripts Holding.
3. She believes in giving back to the community
Kathleen not only gives her all to ensure that Graybar Electric is running at peak performance, but she also sets aside time to contribute to the betterment of her local community. For example, she is a director for Civic Progress as well as for the United Way of Greater St. Louis, Variety the Children’s Charity of St. Louis, and the St. Louis Club. She is also a member of the Missouri Women’s Forum, The Committee of 200, and of Vistage Worldwide, Inc.
4. Kathy started out as a salesperson
When she first started her career with the Graybar Electric company, Mazzarella started at one of the lower-paying positions as a customer service representative in 1980. She advanced with the business to become a sales rep and Kathy did so well that she was promoted to various roles in field sales management. It didn’t take long for Graybar’s executives to recognize her skill and competence and she was made the National Product Manager, prior to being advanced to other positions at the executive level.
5. She is committed to helping others achieve success
Kathleen Mazzarella doesn’t take her success for granted and in an interview for Women Worth Watching, she shared that she works to keep a healthy outlook on her career. It is her sincere desire to make a positive impact on the world around her, and one of the ways that she does this is to do what she can to help others become successful as well.
6. Mazzarella has a diverse education
We were impressed with Ms. Mazzarella’s academic background. She enrolled in a telecommunications engineering program and earned her associate’s degree. Kathy continued forward, taking courses in Applied Behavioral Sciences, earning her bachelor of arts degree in the discipline. After completing her undergraduate studies, she enrolled in a business program at Webster University where she earned a master’s degree in 2002.
7. Mazzarella has received multiple recognitions and awards
Kathleen’s track record of achievement is so impressive that she has been recognized by several high ranking organizations. In 2000, she was given the St. Louis 40 Under 40 award, followed by a 2004 Most Influential Businesswomen in St. Louis award. She was also referred to in an HR practitioners book called “Inside the Minds” which discussed her human resources strategy views. Profiles in Diversity Journal ran a feature article on her as one of their Women Worth Watching in 2010. She was also named a Leader of Distinction by the Metro St. Louis YWCA in addition to several other organizational awards.
8. She took a lot of extra educational courses
We were truly impressed to learn that Kathleen took several college courses which went beyond the degrees that she obtained. She took courses from the Harvard Business School in Compensation Committee and Board Development, and also at the Harvard Executive Education Program with a Making Corporate Boards More Effective course. She also took courses from the University of Michigan in Strategic Human Resources Leadership, a Director’s Consortium course from Stanford/Wharton Chicago Booth GSB and from the Kellogg School of Management she took a Women’s Senior Leadership Program course.
9. She established a women’s networking group at Graybar
Kathleen enjoyed serving as a mentor for other women who were trying to get ahead in the business world. She formed the group to help others, but also to build a network of women who could share their experiences and encourage one another in the development and growth of their careers. The name of the group is called Women Influencing Graybar’s Success with the acronym WINGS.
10. She’s been with Graybar for 32 years
Kathleen Mazzarella is an inspirational leader who has spent more than three decades with the company that she now leads as CEO, president, and chairman. She started out at an entry-level position and worked her way up to the top leadership positions. She put in a great deal of effort and has shown a commitment to continual learning. She has enjoyed an impressive career with the Fortune 500 company and is still doing an excellent job as an inspirational and motivational leader.