Sara Rosenberg Bittorf

This entry is part 5 of 77 in the series

Sarah-BittorfSara Rosenberg Bittorf

Boston Market Corp.
SVP, Chief Brand Officer

Years with company  1.5 years

Education degrees and professional/volunteer organizations: BS Communications and Marketing from Boston University; Member of Wise Women, a group of female executives that are part of The Leadership Investment; American Heart Association Vail Valley Foundation

Mentors and how have they assisted you in your career: I owe a huge debt to two bosses I had at Burger King, where I pretty much “grew up” in my career.  Barry Schwartz hired me when I was young and green.  I had a natural curiosity and basic knowledge of research techniques, and he taught me how to take data and turn it into usable business insights and actionable implications.  The voice of the consumer will always be my foundation.

Paul Clayton was instrumental in deepening my experience in marketing, via rotation through a number of roles in the marketing department.  He saw my potential and moved me through positions in product, brand, advertising and promotions.  He set me up to become an effective CMO by understanding the parts, and how to make the whole greater than the sum of those parts.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements? Do you have a defining moment of your career to date?  There are several new product launches I am proud of, but I’m more proud of the team effort around those launches.  I learned early on that the best way to manage a big project is with a team of cross-functional people who collaborate and work together.  One recent achievement I am proud of is the success of Boston Market 2013 holiday sales.  We started right after last Thanksgiving was over, discussing what had worked and what needed rethinking, conducted consumer research, and developed objectives and strategies to improve our performance (which was up 14 percent versus the prior year).  Sales for 2013 were nearly double our goals and we were so successful we ran out of supply in several markets.

Most challenging part of your job: For me, the most challenging part of any role, especially in a turnaround situation, is deciding what NOT to do.  There is so much to address; the trick is to concentrate on a few critical activities that will have the greatest impact.  I work very hard to create a plan that is focused on strategic choices, and then ensure flawless execution of that plan.

Advice for upcoming younger executives: There is so much I could say to younger executives about putting in the hours, stepping in to fill vacuums and taking risks, but I think that has all been said a number of times.  What I would suggest is to be a good listener and a great team player.  I’m a big believer, partially because of my background in research, in understanding all perspectives, so although my job is defined as marketing, I strive to have enough knowledge of the other disciplines in my business to anticipate issues that marketing can cause, cure or affect. My cross-functional teams operate with an attitude of equal opportunity participation, which means anyone can input on any topic, not just the area he or she represents, and we don’t just involve people at the top.  The most valuable team members are those who are listening…to consumers, customers and operators; they are the ones who bring valuable insights to the team that can unlock growth.

Hobbies: Cooking, hiking, skiing and traveling