Women @ Work

Weight Watchers CEO Mindy Grossman on the twist of fate ‘that has stayed with me my entire life’

The powerhouse exec talks about her reputation as ‘a turnaround queen’ and the responsibility she feels over a gift given to her at a very young age

In the 12th episode of Women @ Work, Tina Brown sits down for a lively discussion with Weight Watchers International president and CEO Mindy Grossman. Grossman came to Weight Watchers less than a year ago, but in that short time the company’s stock price has more than doubled. Prior to joining Weight Watchers, Grossman had a tremendous run as the CEO of the Home Shopping Network.

She has developed a reputation as “a turnaround queen,” as Brown put it, who has enjoyed great success reinvigorating legacy brands. “I’ve always been someone who loves transformation, accelerating growth, tapping into kind of where the consumer was going,” Grossman said. “So, after spending nearly 40 years in the branded consumer space, with brands like HSN, Nike and Ralph Lauren, the last couple of years, I was really thinking about what’s going be important to people in the future.”

She and Brown discussed gender diversity in the workplace, and why a so-called “pipeline of women” into executive level jobs isn’t viable for achieving true parity in the workplace. Grossman also talked about the type of brands that are primed in the future to be the ones that will really connect with consumers, and discussed why she once had to turn down a dream job — at first, and then revealed how she was ultimately able to accept it.

But the discussion wasn’t all business. It delved into Grossman’s personal history and the powerhouse executive shared her unique adoption story. “I think what happens in your past has a lot to do with your future,” Grossman said, before recounting how her parents, who were of modest means, tried for 12 years to have a baby, but were unsuccessful. They didn’t have the money to adopt, she said — until someone, in a tremendous stroke of generosity, made it possible for them to pursue that possibility. The result was their adoption of Grossman, a cosmic twist of fate that has created a true legacy that Grossman takes very seriously.

“Because of that, I was told that I was special … that I could do anything I wanted to do … that my life was everything I could make it,” Grossman said. “I also felt this deep sense of responsibility because I’d been given this gift. And how I use that gift was going to be very important. And that has stayed with me my entire life.” Watch the full episode above.

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