Alumnae Spotlight showcases amazing Laurel women and the paths they have charted since graduation. Whether they are doctors, designers, artists, authors, scientists, lawyers, teachers, entrepreneurs, engineers, pharmacists, or civic activists or volunteers, Laurel women inhabit nearly all careers and corners of the world helping to make it a better place. Our alumnae and the journeys that they have taken speak to the essence of a Laurel education and what makes this School and the community of women who call it their own distinctive. This space highlights their fascinating lives and the mountains they continue to move.
If you would like to be featured in our Alumnae Spotlight, or know of an alumna who might, please email Megan Findling.
October 2018 Alumnae Spotlight
Arnelle Martin ’84
For proud Green Team member Arnelle Martin ’84, life is about following your passions. She went to business school at a time when there were only a few female CEOs and established herself as a branding and marketing innovator. After decades in corporate America, she recently decided to take a break to focus on personal endeavors. Arnelle shares, “Walking away, even temporarily, from a career path is not always easy and sometimes requires strength, courage and resilience but it’s worth it in the end. An unconventional path or decision may be exactly what’s required to stay true to yourself and your passions.”
A strategic leader for Laurel School through her service on the Board of Trustees, Arnelle encourages alumnae to stay involved with Laurel, wherever they live. “Laurel women live around the country and around the world,” she notes. “Just reach out to the Alumnae Office to find a community of alums near you!”
Why did you choose to come to Laurel starting in Eighth Grade?
Prior to attending Laurel, I participated in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s “Major Work” gifted education program. It was a great experience that prepared me for my time at Laurel, and I am forever grateful for the enriching educational opportunities it provided me. With that said, by middle school, I had begun to outgrow the program and yearned for a more advanced learning curriculum. I considered many local and out-of-state schools but, ultimately, selected Laurel for its unique ability to embrace and excel in math, science and the arts. It was clear to me that Laurel was a nurturing environment where I could continue to grow intellectually and artistically while honing many of my passions.
What’s your fondest memory of Laurel?
My fondest memory at Laurel is my time spent learning Latin with Mrs. Pyle the summer prior to the start of Eighth Grade. She made learning Latin fun at a time when I would have normally been enjoying my summer vacation. She instilled in me a love of the classics and romance languages and it’s because of her that I went on to study classical Greek and Italian at Laurel and Skidmore College. I greatly appreciated the time she took out of her personal schedule to help ensure I had the best chance for success as a new Laurel student.
How do you think your time at One Lyman Circle influenced the years since graduation?
Ann V. Klotz’s “The Offer of Laurel School”, which was inspired by President of Bowdoin College (1885-1917) William DeWitt Hyde’s “Offer of the College,” eloquently articulates how my time at Laurel influenced my years since graduation. It aligns with my values and captures the skills I use to be the innovator I am today.
The Offer of Laurel School:
To retain your integrity in a world that too often doesn’t.
To choose what is good over what is easy.
To balance tradition with an appetite for innovation.
To think critically and to ask important questions.
To be unafraid of adventure in all forms.
To act with courage more often than from fear.
To listen carefully to those both like and unlike yourself, offering respect and dignity to all you meet,
Forging connections that are authentic and enduring.
To contribute to, to sustain and to improve the communities in which you live;
To reject man’s inhumanity to man, even as you practice resilience in all your endeavors.
To be curious;
To permit the wonder and beauty of the natural world to inspire you
And to steward landscapes, both known and unfamiliar.
To express yourself with confidence and grace in writing, language and the arts.
To value the satisfaction precise endeavors offer, while relishing, too, ambiguity.
To discover what you love and to pursue those interests purposefully.
To be curious and learn forever.
To be the agent of your own education.
This is the offer of Laurel for your time in these dear walls.
After Laurel, you studied business at Skidmore College and then went on to earn your MBA from Case Western Reserve University in 1995. How was the business field different for women in the 1990s than today?
One of the biggest differences between then and now would be the number of female CEOs who existed in the 1990s versus today. Although female CEOs are still quite rare, with Fortune reporting that the 2018 Fortune 500 companies have just 24 female CEOs, the numbers have improved since the 1990s.
You’ve spent the last decade being involved with the development and marketing of products from Sour Patch Extremes to FiberChoice Fruity Bites. Can you tell us a little about all the work that goes into the creation and marketing of a new product?
At its most basic level, innovation is about identifying and validating a product offering, service or process that addresses the unmet wants and needs of a consumer while also meeting the strategic and financial objectives of the business. It requires a comprehensive business analysis that looks at the category, consumer, competition, customer and the company. The marketing of a new product is generally focused on determining & managing the 4Ps (product, price, placement and promotion) in order to drive growth, while always keeping an eye on the consumer’s wants and needs. It is important to note, however, that in today’s fast and ever-evolving market there is no “one size fits all” approach.
What are the most important skills to have to be a successful innovator?
The ability to influence and be strategic, to glean insights and connect the dots are important skills to have as you look for opportunities to drive growth within an organization.
What was involved in your job as the Senior Product Manager: Innovation at Gerber?
I led the front-end innovation process, identified white space opportunities, developed the innovation strategy and defined the long-term innovation pipeline. I also developed Gerber’s Clean Field Farming™ positioning and communication content which created a sustainable consumer-centric platform for Gerber to engage and connect with their consumers in a relevant way.
How have Millennial (and even Generation Z) demographic groups changed the way businesses connect and interact with their consumers?
Millennial and Gen Z consumers are looking for transparency: they want to be engaged and a part of the conversation. They embrace experiences and enjoy connecting with others via social media. Digital marketing allows businesses to connect with them in a way that is convenient and easily accessible. They have the flexibility to opt in and opt out at their leisure and to share content that resonates with them. Businesses have the ability to tell a story and vary the content through short stories or video vignettes. Millennials and Gen Z consumers have changed the rules of engagement and the speed with which information is disseminated, digested and shared. It’s no longer about marketers telling consumers what they want them to know. It’s about businesses being active listeners and responding in a way that addresses their consumers’ needs.
At the moment you’re taking a break from corporate America to recharge and focus on personal endeavors. How has that been? What have you gained from this time away from work?
It has been refreshing and inspiring. I’ve been able to participate in other activities that fulfill me, which makes me a better innovator and a better person. Professionally, I’m able to approach organizational brainteasers from a different lens and with a renewed focus: making them easier to solve. And personally, I’m able to partake in experiences that enrich my life. I think it’s beneficial to have interests outside of work, to try something new and to give yourself the opportunity to grow—whether it’s taking one day out of a weekend to indulge in a passion or taking an extended period of time to embark on a new adventure. At the end of the day, it’s about allowing yourself the time to explore and smell the roses. There are some companies, such as Clif Bar, that even offer work sabbaticals as a perk. If you’re lucky enough to work for one of them, I urge you to take full advantage of the benefit!
You also volunteer your time and talents by serving on the Laurel School Board of Trustees. Thank you!! What are you most excited for in Laurel’s future?
What do you wish more alums knew about the Laurel School of today?
What a great resource Laurel’s Center for Research on Girls is for those currently at Laurel School as well as the Laurel community—in and out of state.
On a typical weekend, where would we likely find you? Do you have any hobbies or interests you’re passionate about?
You might find me at the museum, the theater, the orchestra, baking, knitting at one of my favorite yarn spots or grabbing a bite to eat with my “foodie” friends. I’m passionate about learning and experiencing all the wonderful things that life has to offer. If an activity can inspire me or ignite my creative juices, I’m all over it! Life is a journey that’s meant to be lived . . . so why not live it?!
If you could write your life’s philosophy as a message in a fortune cookie, what would it be?
Leverage your passions and stay true to yourself!