I had the typical Midwest upbringing in Saginaw, Michigan. Growing up with two parents who are attorneys, the conversations we had didn’t always lead to straight answers, but my parents asked questions to encourage me to think. I have a love of learning, and I think it comes from them.

When I was a teen, big hair shows would make stops in Detroit, Flint, and Saginaw. They featured fantasy hair and super-architectural styles. These shows really inspired my love of beauty, especially hair and hairstyles. My free time was filled with creating crimps, freeze curls, and French rolls — I was using a Marcel iron at age nine. In high school, my hair was always styled before games, and for homecoming, a friend helped me create a French roll and we placed Christmas lights on top as the finishing touch. Nail polish was also a passion: I had 50 or so different nail polishes in my Caboodle; I still have the carrying case.

From the age of six, I wanted to be a writer or in the communications space, and at age 14 I toured our local newspaper, The Saginaw News, setting me on the path of journalism. Seeing how journalists come up with stories and decide what’s on the cutting room floor really opened my eyes.

Marsh and her family.

For college, my brother Steve attended North Carolina A&T State University, which is an HBCU. I saw the confidence and the relationships he developed in his first two years there; I really wanted that, too. So, three months before high school graduation, I decided to go to Hampton University.

In college, I had the blessing of having a roommate who was also impassioned with beauty. She was very skilled in hairstyles and hair design and could do weaves really well. We would help our friends style their weaves: I’d take on braiding and she would do the sewing-in.

I switched majors three times before settling on mass media arts during my junior year, so I had yet to intern or take any coursework. Which is why I will never forget when one of my mentors, Felicia Carty, called and said, “You’re behind. This is what you need to do to catch up. I want you to go to the website of the American Association of Advertising Agencies and apply for the multicultural advertising internship program.” I got into that program, and I’m grateful to Felicia for setting me on that path.

My mentors’ support was really the difference in getting my career off to a great start. One of my professors nominated me for national recognition as a top student in advertising, which culminated at an event at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. It was an amazing experience, and the reason I bring this up is because that is where I was introduced to Procter & Gamble.

I’d always loved beauty, but I’d never envisioned it as a career. P&G wasn’t hiring at the time — but a week later I got a phone call about an internship in what was then called the External Relations group. The moment I walked in for the interview, I knew the culture was different. People kept talking about what the company could do for me versus what I could do for the company. It felt like P&G was the place for me.

Marsh and the Olay team.

After graduating from Hampton, I joined P&G full-time in February 1999. My first project was launching Olay Total Effects and Olay Daily Facials. It was an unbelievable experience. Back then, there were clear lines of demarcation between mass and prestige brands. This was the first time that a skin care brand sold in mass retailers was bringing these premium benefits at a higher price point. It was a very exciting launch. From that moment, I knew I never wanted to leave beauty.

Early on, I worked as an assistant brand manager on Noxzema. That taught me so much about P&L, managing a business, customer relations — all the things that I don’t see day-to-day in a communications role. That was a fantastic experience. But I also learned that I didn’t want to do brand management, so I went back into communications.

I worked in our hair care and cosmetics businesses before moving to New York to work on our prestige business; P&G used to own the licenses of Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, and Hugo Boss. I also worked on our skin care and cosmetics business remotely for a period of time, and I’d commute to Boston to work on Gillette.

While I was in New York, an incredible job opportunity came up in Cincinnati. I wanted the job, but I wasn’t ready to leave the city. My mentors, both official and unofficial, helped me articulate what was important to me in a way that the company could understand — and that didn’t question my commitment. We wound up finding a workable solution [that allowed me to take the job and stay in New York]. But it’s important to understand: When we make decisions that are important in our life, there are positive and negative consequences. I wouldn’t change any decision that I made, but I will say that I was working location-free for about three years — and this was pre-pandemic, before all the tools that make it frictionless to work remotely.

Marsh with Damon Jones, Chief Communications Officer, P&G, and the Greater China team.

One of the best things about P&G is that it trains people how to think, process, and problem-solve — how to take equal parts input of data and instinct, bring that together, and make a decision. The culture is one of inspiring growth and learning. We get things done by working with people and through teams. That’s something I really value.

Some of my leadership style comes from P&G, but some of it is who I am as a person. Growing up, I felt different — I was different — from my peers: I was the tallest person in my class from age six to 13, and I was studious. Being different made me make sure the people around me feel included and that they have a voice.

I have a life mission that I keep in my phone, and I reference it when I lose track of my purpose. My life mission is to build bridges and create connections — to bring happiness to the world. I think I have a democratic leadership style that is rooted in asking questions, making sure everyone has had an opportunity to share their thinking. My role is to get everyone to bring forth their best to yield the best possible outcome.

Marsh and her friends on a trip to Morocco.

I love being around people, and I love to cook and entertain. I have an Instagram account (@anitras.kitchen) dedicated to the dishes I create and the food I experience on my travels. I’ve been to more than 35 countries, some of them I’ve had the opportunity to see through P&G, which is an awesome perk. I try to travel as much as I can to experience new cultures and try new foods.

I’m excited about the future of beauty; I love the supercharged pace at which things are happening. It feeds my soul. To stay on top of trends I make sure to disconnect while on vacation and on weekends. If you don’t disconnect from work, you can’t connect with what’s happening in the world.

I really believe in following your dreams and passion, even when it’s not popular. I come from a family of lawyers; my parents, my grandfather, my uncle, and my brother are all lawyers. My family has always been supportive, but I had to follow my own path. I think it’s important to be who you are and be true to the gifts that you bring. I live that way because when other people see me doing that, they feel like they can do it, too. And that’s really what I want.