Woman to Watch

Published on August 27, 2013

Recently recognized as a 2013 “Woman to Watch” by Advertising Age, Sally Grimes, ’97, has earned a reputation for fresh thinking in brand management. 

As chief innovation officer at Chicago-based Hillshire Brands Co. since July 2012, Grimes is leading a focus on growth through innovation for the company, including a new generation of Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches, some of which are even meatless. 

Grimes has been breathing new life into brands since her early days at Kraft Foods Group, where she launched the first microwaveable macaroni & cheese, Kraft Easy Mac. Later, at Newell Rubbermaid Inc., she helped turn Sharpie from a utilitarian tool into a design-world darling by redefining Sharpie as the advocate of self-expression. This repositioning earned Grimes a spot on Fast Company’s 2012 “100 Most Creative People in Business” list.

In a Q & A with Advertising Age, Grimes recalls some words of advice her father gave her that she applies to marketing, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” In rethinking and revitalizing some of today’s biggest brands, Grimes’ strategy is simple, “Why not give the consumer what she is looking for?”—Sophie Kennedy