2013 Enterprising Women: Carolyn Corporon
Vice president marketing, CosmoProf, Division of Beauty Systems Group LLC
Carolyn Corporon formed her entrepreneurial roots at her first job as a graphic artist, when she was charged with bringing in some new business and landed a new account on her first day out. Realizing the need for businesses to access the services of a creative agency at an affordable price, Corporon put together a team of freelance artists to work on projects for clients, and soon she transformed herself from graphic artist to marketing consultant to business owner. When her husband accepted a position at the University of North Texas, Corporon left the business to a partner and found new opportunities in Texas with a German manufacturer of alternative building materials. She helped the company launch its U.S. business, but found the job's long communte draining, so she took a chance and sent an introductory letter to Judy Cole, then CEO of Sally Beauty. To her surprise, Cole called her and it wasn’t long before Corporon was invited to join the company. “It has been a thrill ride over the last 14 years,” she says. “The challenges have stretched me, and the opportunity to grow with the business is one I am thankful for as I complete each year of service.” Today, Corporon works to make that dream happen for other women, as she serves on the board of the Denton Chamber of Commerce and chairs Women in Commerce, a committee of women who are passionate about making a difference in the professional life of women.
From where does your entrepreneurial drive originate?
A pivotal event occurred in my life when I was eleven years old. My father died suddenly and unexpectedly. It was a shock to my world view. I was no longer a child. From that moment on, I took control of my destiny. I learned to accept that life is unpredictable and how we respond to events and choose to interpret them makes all the difference in how the journey goes.
As you grew your company/brand, what “ah-ha” moments of clarity helped you shape its future course?
I appreciate traditional sources of information but have always relied upon my life experiences, insights and intuition to guide me. I think other areas of interest outside the beauty industry can stretch our understanding of human behavior and how the dynamics of choice and outcome are powerfully connected. The choice we make today invents a future we create and live into. Energy is infused in decisions and actions.
As you shaped your company, what have been some of the biggest stumbling blocks?
The challenge can be to get others to see the possibilities you envision, especially when you approach business from a non-traditional point of view.
How would you describe your management style?
I am a strong believer in building a team with a vast amount of diversity of gender, ethnicity, age and background. I believe our relationships at work are intentional in that we are meant to contribute to one another’s personal and professional growth. Unique points of view offer a spectrum of ideas to explore. We all learn from each other.
What do you think makes you a good leader, and in what areas would you like to improve?
As a leader, I’m accessible, fun and friendly, and I expect that we are respectful and professional with one another. I’m visionary and conceptual, and that can be a challenge for my team who is looking for details on execution.
How do you set goals for yourself? For example, do you prefer more small, accomplishable goals or fewer large goals? How do you hold yourself accountable?
My goal is to always be open to an opportunity. I seek out the possibilities that are yet to be discovered. I’m comfortable with a measure of risk to gain rewards. I accept the responsibility associated with taking a bit of a gamble. Results are measurable in the short-term and provide insights for the long-term. I like to go big, but will test in a controlled manner to define the larger opportunity. I’m accountable for results that benefit the business.
Throughout your professional history, what’s the best lesson you’ve learned after making a mistake?
Mistakes teach us. I really don’t consider them mistakes, but life lessons. When a decision doesn’t deliver expected results, it informs future decisions. There is value in every experience.
From whom or what do you draw your strength, courage, vision?
My mother. I watched her ability to recover from the tragedy of suddenly losing her husband and having three children and a home to take care of. She went back to her nursing career. As a single parent she was generous to others. She had a tremendous capacity to live life with enthusiasm and curiosity. Later I witnessed her strength in battling breast cancer. She died when I was nine months pregnant with my daughter. My daughter and I do the Susan G. Komen walk together in her memory.
As you grew your company, what, if anything, has held you back?
I have always felt supported in my many roles. I appreciate the relationships that have contributed to my professional growth and that of the companies I’ve been privileged to serve. It truly is all about the relationships—with management, colleagues, and most importantly, our customers.
What is the number-one quality you look for when hiring employees, and how do you evaluate if they possess that trait?
I look for a positive nature and an expectant outlook. I want acceptance for different points of view—openness to new ideas and willingness to work with a team. I’m good at reading people through observation and in conversation.
What’s the best thing an employee/colleague ever said about you?
Carolyn brings a level of energy and optimism to every project. Her actions are thoughtful and always well intended.
If you were training another woman to take over your job, what’s the most important advice you would offer her?
Be bold, be confident, and listen carefully. Be observant and responsive. Success is a team effort. It’s not just about the bottom line. Our ideas and relationships should make a meaningful contribution.
If you were to look at scrapbook of your professional career, what would be your favorite page? Which page would you like to remove?
My favorite page would be a collage of all the interesting people I’ve met and worked with over the years. I’m of the philosophy that every page offers something of value so I wouldn’t want to remove anything.
If someone were to write a book about your life, what would be an appropriate title?
The Art of Living Expressively
If you weren’t in the beauty industry, what would you be doing?
I’d explore opportunities to assist women in their professional development.
What are you working on now? What’s your next professional step?
How much time do we have?
How would you like to spend your retirement?
With more free time, I will enjoy my family, visit friends in faraway places, walk my dogs, cook, entertain, visit art galleries, drive a fast car, and travel.