Gwen Forman

This entry is part 17 of 33 in the series

GwenForman_0009Gwen Forman

Cumberland Farms

Years with company:  Two years

Current position and your immediate supervisor:
Vice President of Marketing: I am responsible for advertising, public relations, merchandising/buying/category management, warehousing and distribution for the Cumberland Farms retail stores (excluding gasoline).

Immediate supervisor: Ari Haseotes, president/chief operating officer

Education degrees and professional/volunteer affiliations: 

  • Washington University, St. Louis: Bachelor’s Degree, Mathematics.
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Business: Master’s in Business Administration
  • Board of Directors, New England Convenience Store Association

Mentors and how have they assisted you in your career:
Although I have had a handful of mentors over the years, each of which has provided guidance, the most important mentor is a woman I worked with when I was a consultant at a strategy consulting firm early in my career. By working closely with her and observing her behavior, I learned three lessons that have I lived by and reflected on over the years. The first is about the criticality of prioritization. Given there is never enough time to complete everything, it is absolutely crucial to take the time upfront to identify the things that really matter and communicate these priorities to your team. The second lesson is that once you have identified the set of high-priority items, there is no excuse for doing less than your best, no matter how hard you need to work to get there. And the third and most important lesson is that you should never compromise your principles on the job, regardless of the circumstances.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements or a defining moment of your career to date?

  • Developing and implementing programs that resonate with customers, plus have generated positive financial results for Cumberland Farms.
  • Having the privilege of successfully leading a tremendously talented group of people with a diverse set of backgrounds.

Most challenging part of job:
A critical challenge is balancing the effort my team exerts toward achieving Cumberland Farms’ long-term strategic vision, with the effort required to generate results in the shorter term.

The traditional key strengths of the convenience store, tobacco and gasoline, are shrinking markets, and cannot be relied upon to drive growth. C-Stores must gain strength in product lines like foodservice that promise more sustained growth than tobacco and gas, but that leverage the convenience attributes and customer service that have made C-Stores successful for many years.

Thoughts or advice for upcoming younger executives:
Be organized, prioritize well, and work hard. Develop strong, positive relationships with stakeholders inside and outside your company, even if it means biting your tongue at times. Love your work and share that passion with your team. Ensure work is fun as well as challenging. Celebrate your successes and don’t be afraid of failure, as it is inevitable and the best way to learn lessons you will never forget.

Running, reading fiction, spending time with my husband, Roger, and four children.