When SC Johnson executive Jane Hutterly took the stage as the UW-Parkside School of Business and Technology spring Executive-in-Residence, students may have been somewhat surprised by her message. Although perfectly coiffed and immaculately attired, Hutterly strongly urged students to pursue a career path more suited to Land's End than Prada.
"I wanted them to think about taking risks, being willing to take risks; being willing to step outside their comfort zone in order to expand their experience base and, potentially, put themselves in a position of being more successful. And in so doing, it can be a great, fun time," Hutterly said.
In keeping with the theme of her program "Create a Life of Adventure," Hutterly cited milestones in her own career that allowed her to leave the well-traveled path and take her career in interesting new directions. Joining SC Johnson in 1979 as a product manager, she became Corporate Acquisitions Director eight years later. Three years later, she was named Director of Worldwide Environmental Affairs. She has served as Executive VP of Worldwide Corporate & Environmental Affairs for the past five years and at the same time she has been president of Johnson Keland Management, Inc, the Family Office for the Johnson family, a firm which provides family strategic governance, financial and wealth management services for over a decade.
"Each successive position gives you more and more experience and greater confidence in who you are as a person and what you're capable of handling," Hutterly said. "And that creates an inner confidence and an inner strength."
Hutterly said as her career advanced, she became more willing to take risks. As a product manager, she believed in aggressively moving products to market.
"Those [decisions] were grounded in science, they were grounded in good market research, but nevertheless we knew we had to move quickly and when you move quickly, in order to remain competitive, there's always risk associated with that," she stated.
Hutterly said mergers and acquisitions "was very much outside of the brand management arena" but quickly added that it was a "terrific, quite broadening" experience. She acknowledged that the learning curve for taking a new career path can be daunting but it doesn't have to overwhelming and it doesn't have to be done alone.
"What do you do? You study up! You find people who are willing to spend time with you and help you ground yourself in the area. You go back to school. When I got into M&A, I reviewed an intermediate accounting course at Parkside. So you do the things to give yourself enough of a foundation that is sufficient to allow you to be successful in the position. You create the conditions, as best you can, to be successful," she said.
Along with a willingness to take risks, Hutterly also shared two more of what she called her Three Key Learnings. She advised students to develop a trusted network of people to confide in and bounce ideas off of, and she told them to make a conscious effort to broaden their experience base to take on whatever changes life may bring.
Hutterly closed with advice on what students should be thinking about in preparing for a job today.
"I basically said complete your education and do well at it; match your passion with areas of opportunity and growth," she stated. "[And] you've got to present yourself well to a prospective employer and you've got to do it professionally. You've got to look professional, you've got to speak professionally."
UW-Parkside School of Business and Technology Dean Fred Ebeid said Hutterly's presentation captured the essence of what the university wants the Executive-in-Residence series to provide to students.
"Jane Hutterly's advice was exactly what our students needed to hear and the fact that she has 'been there, done that' and been successful really made her program resonate with our students," Ebeid said. "I know our students now have a stronger foundation for their careers after experiencing her program."Hutterly was the 17th area businessperson to serve as Executive-in-Residence since the program began in 2002.