Being Open to Possibilities Drives Career Growth
Curiosity has been an essential key to LaToya Superville’s success. The senior director of innovation and supply chain commercialization for North America at McCormick & Company maintains an inquisitive mind so she can grow as an individual and professional.
“I have always been curious, even as a child,” LaToya recalls. “My mother's house growing up was full of my little experiments. If you stay curious, you’re open to understanding, to learning. The richness of what you gain from an experience will be drastically different.”
That’s one reason why, in the short time she has been at McCormick, she has received two promotions, going from North America program manager to supply chain capability director to her current position. Another reason is that LaToya participated in the World Trade Center Institute’s (WTCI) Bowe fellowship program a few years ago. The 10-month program is open to mid- to senior-level managers who aspire to be in the C-Suite at a globally minded business. It is a unique opportunity for them to improve their skills and deepen their knowledge related to business. Nearly 70 percent of the participants are promoted shortly after they finish the program.
LaToya says one of the greatest benefits of being a Bowe fellow was that it exposed her to how other companies approach business.
“I only knew the way Procter & Gamble operated because I had been there for 15 years before coming to McCormick,” she explains. “The Bowe program accelerated my learning and development. So, as I learned how McCormick manages and navigates the same challenges and opportunities that P&G had, I also got a sneak peek at how Under Armour looks at them and how Pandora looks at them.”
The program also was an opportunity for her to learn new skills. The communication session by Baltimore Ravens play-by-play voice Gerry Sandusky, for example, gave her the tools to become a more confident speaker.
“Don’t get me wrong, I love to talk,” she jokes. “But I had always struggled with communication as a professional. I felt uncomfortable about how I showed up as a speaker, especially when I was addressing larger and broader crowds.”
Fast forward a few years after the Sandusky session and she not only helped lead a session at WTCI’s annual Women Spanning the Globe conference, but she also got ranked as one of the best speakers at the event. So, when a co-worker asked her to do a presentation at McCormick’s national sales meeting, she felt confident saying “yes.”
“The validation from the WTCI conference gave me the confidence to say yes to speaking at the sales meeting,” she says. “My curiosity outweighed my intimidation.”
Today, LaToya often finds herself in the front of rooms giving quarterly updates and speaking at conferences for work and WTCI programs.
Sandusky’s session also helped her gain a clear vision for the characteristics she wants to manifest as a professional.
“At the bottom of my email, you will see the four words that were part of that communication session that resonated with me so strongly and for which I hold myself accountable: insightful, courageous, authentic, and passionate,” she says. “Insightful and courageous are aspirational, and authentic and passionate describe me currently.”
Another Bowe session that sticks with her is the one related to how to be a good negotiator.
“The idea of negotiating made me a bit uncomfortable because who wants to be in conflict,” she says. “But it doesn't have to feel like somebody has to lose; there's a way for both of us to feel like we gain value out of the exchange.”
During a conflict-related role playing exercise at the Bowe session, she tapped into her curiosity to understand the intent of the other person’s words by asking more probing questions.
“We got to the root of the conflict and resolved it more quickly than everybody else and were able to finish the exercise first,” she says. “Being curious during negotiations helps you root out an alternate way to get to a solution.”
Last, LaToya says she is grateful that the Bowe fellowship helped her expand her professional network. She started creating friendships with other fellows during the two-day retreat that kicked off the program in the fall of 2019 and continued to do so throughout the program, even though COVID-19 forced many of the sessions to be virtual.
“Our need and desire to stay connected came through the bond we created earlier in the year, then just naturally kept going.”
LaToya operates under the adage “to whom much is given, much is expected.” Her focus is on giving back, serving on the Bowe advisory board that vets new candidates and the Women Spanning the Globe planning committee. She also works to identify young professionals who would benefit from the experience as she has.
“I'm now in positions where I can do that for other people; where I can advocate on their behalf.”