Show up early. Being 15 minutes early is being on time.
Thank you. Say “Thank you” often.
Thank you notes. Do it. It’s a lost art and people will remember you for it.
Be empathetic. Know everyone is going through something in their life.
Stay grounded. Surround yourself with a core group of friends. Who you can call at 2 a.m.?
As a part of our series about “Women of the C-Suite”, I had the pleasure to interview Rhonda Vetere.
Rhonda is a seasoned C-Suite executive and a passionate global leader in technology. She has worked across industries as a global executive and change agent. Currently the chief information officer for Herbalife Nutrition, she is responsible for leading the Company’s information technology strategy and implementation in over 90 countries. For over 25 years, she has managed IT divisions of over 20,000 people across multiple continents. Her background includes CIO/CTO positions at Estée Lauder, Barclays and JPMorgan, and senior technology positions at leading companies including AIG, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Lehman Brothers. She is also a published author, a public speaker and an avid sports fan and real-world corporate athlete, attributing her focus and mental sharpness to competing in marathons and triathlons on a regular basis.
Thank you so much for doing this with us once again Rhonda! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Having worked across multiple industries, finance, beauty, and health, I couldn’t be happier than where I am now, at Herbalife Nutrition. I’ve learned from all of these verticals around the world and now can align where I work with my own personal mission and moral compass of making a difference in the world through health and wellness by bringing my passions together though sports and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) while being a corporate athlete at a company that believes health and wellness is so important means a lot to me.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Since joining Herbalife Nutrition being surrounded by people who not only work for a health and wellness company but truly believe in living a healthy and active lifestyle, is the best feeling! It’s astounding that before meetings, people are asking if you’ve worked out and they are always willing to share workout stories and tips. Everyone in the C-suite shares their workouts and you can sometimes find them working out during their conference calls at 6 a.m. As an athlete who regularly competes in IRONMAN 70.3 triathlons (among other events), it’s truly inspiring. I love the culture and we’re all quite competitive about our workouts.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
About 20 years ago on a business trip to India, I stepped off the plane wearing a business suit and the heat was unbearable. I realized I had packed all the wrong clothes and immediately had to go shopping. It was then that I learned how to wear Sarees. From that moment forward, I started my collection of sarees and now have several hundreds of them. I now find them comfortable and enjoy wearing them. The lesson; when traveling always check the weather and find people that have traveled to that location for business to get tips on what to pack.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
What makes our company stand out is that we are a distributor-driven business that is committed to giving people around the world a simpler path to adopting a healthier lifestyle. We do this through a personalized nutrition approach, supportive coaching and a likeminded community. Our employees embody this and want to make a difference in people’s lives every day. Our Company is not only about making the right products but also about living the wellness aspect be it competing in sports and weaving it into the culture through company-sponsored events like the Herbalife24 Triathlon Los Angeles, 5k and Bike tour on Sunday, May 17. Employee registration is waived and there are training plans available as well as lunch and learns with our sports nutrition expert and professional sponsored athletes like top U.S. female triathlete Heather Jackson who is scheduled to stop by to speak to and motivate staff. We live and breathe the lifestyle every day. As a triathlete, I am happy to be in a place where I can balance my passion and career. This year, I will participate in 14 overall races and some IRONMAN 70.3 races across the globe while proudly donning our company’s Herbalife24 triathlon kit.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes, I am working on some exciting new projects that I believe will not only improve how we do business, but it will also make doing business easier for our distributors and their customers. This includes working on transforming the technology organization with a digital edge focus on building a team and the technology that will help our distributors be more efficient from ordering online, shipping to paying. To help our business, we need to help them grow their businesses. We want to make doing business easier by deploying technology to find a balance between digitalization and human interaction.
Also, I am focused on projects across the technology industry to help mentor others across multiple companies through S.T.E.M.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
I thrive on full-contact management, hands-dirty collaboration, and thought-provoking relationships; using emotional intelligence, listening, and ethics to guide myself and my teams. My advice to other female leaders to help their team thrive is to be themselves, speak up, don’t sit on anything. If you have an opinion, share it. Deal with issues when they arrive and don’t wait weeks on end to provide feedback. Real-time feedback is essential to employee growth.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
My advice to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team is to get to know your teams holistically, get to know your leaders, but also be available to others at different levels. Have one-to-one meetings, town halls — know your team professionally and personally. Taking the time to get to know who your people are shows them you care and will empower them to want to do their best for you. Remember to be yourself and that everyone has their own work style.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful to who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I can’t say there’s only been one person, however, I can say that there have been several people that I am grateful to because their advice and guidance have helped me get to where I am today. Many of them were prominent businessmen in the world and military leaders. Much of their advice has helped me navigate and respond to various circumstances in my career by adapting what I learned from them.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
S.T.E.M. through sports is one of the ways that I try to give back to the world in addition to women empowerment groups like the Girls Run Serengeti, a 55-mile run with all of the funds going to girl empowerment groups and the conservation for the safari in Tanzania. I believe these actions are important because you can show people that they can do and accomplish anything. As a corporate athlete, I have learned it is possible to balance being an executive and your passion. Anything is possible when you focus on your goal.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
The 5 things I wish someone had told me before I started in my career.
- Show up early. Being 15 minutes early is being on time.
- Thank you. Say “Thank you” often.
- Thank you notes. Do it. It’s a lost art and people will remember you for it.
- Be empathetic. Know everyone is going through something in their life.
- Stay grounded. Surround yourself with a core group of friends. Who you can call at 2 a.m.?
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
If I could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, I would be the change agent executive through sports, leading large global teams and showing people across the globe how being fit is important to their life from a health and wellness standpoint with a focus on technology. Technology is cool and I want the next generation to understand that S.T.E.M. is FUN and it isn’t geeky- it is the future.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite “Life Lesson Quote,” is “you can’t manage what you don’t measure,” this is my unbending mantra. Metrics are king — you can’t manage an environment if you don’t know so I measure everything in data points including my races and metrics at work. I try to consider the key factors of measurement, true transparency, and trusting my numbers.
We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Condoleezza Rice is one of the people in the world that I would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with because we’re both women who have encountered and dealt with different challenges in our lives. Also, as a bonus, we both play golf.