Mary Brown

This entry is part 8 of 69 in the series

Mary Brown, Schwans Food ServiceMary Brown

Schwan’s Home Service, Inc. (subsidiary of The Schwan Food Company)
Vice President, Product & Innovation

Years with company: Four years




Education degrees and professional/volunteer organizations: 

  • B.A. Marketing, Metropolitan State University, St. Paul, Minn.
  • M.A. Leadership, Augsburg College, Minneapolis, Minn.

Volunteer organizations:
Guest lecturer on business/leadership at local schools/colleges
Second Harvest Heartland
Feed My Starving Children

Mentors and how have they assisted you in your career:
I credit my parents with fostering my strong work ethic and drive for achievement. In terms of professional mentors, I’ve benefited a great deal from leaders who took the time to engage and support my development, including a few that I’d like to acknowledge publicly. The first, Marti Morfitt, taught me to think critically and strategically; she challenged me to focus on the most impactful leverage points. A second, Carol (Watzke) Windfeldt, taught me to trust my intuitive self; she taught me that it’s okay to “feel,” even in business environments. My husband, Don Himsl, has also been a great sounding board and partner. He’s helped me learn to seek the “question behind the question” – to clarify the true intent or need before addressing an issue. I’ve relied heavily on each of these skills throughout my career; I’m very fortunate to have had these people in my life to learn from.

Advice for upcoming younger executives:
Embrace self-awareness as a continuous learning loop. Be clear about your core values, and what’s important to you; leverage those values as guiding principles to inform your decisions and behavior. Understand your strengths – where you add greatest value and impact – lean on them. Similarly, identify your opportunity areas and be conscious of them. You can’t know everything, but you can choose to surround yourself with others who complement your skills, provide alternative perspectives, offer candid, constructive feedback, and generally make you a stronger person and a more valuable resource.

My favorite hobbies are hanging out with my family (including my dog) and friends, reading, traveling, mid- and long-distance running, down-hill skiing, and golfing.