2015 CEW Achiever Award Honoree, Kathy O’Brien, is one of the industry’s most respected and well-liked leaders, who has helped make famous key initiatives such as the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. Throughout her 25-year career at Unilever, Kathy has learned many valuable lessons that have helped her grow professionally and achieve the position she now holds, Vice President of Skin & Marketing Services, where she oversees Shopper Marketing, Marketing Communications, Digital/e-Commerce and Marketing Capabilities.

To kick of CEW’s new Executive Access Series newsletter, Kathy joined CEW for a live Twitter chat earlier this month where she answered career questions and shared her best advice for success in the beauty industry. Here, a summary of the Q&A. Use #askCEW to follow the full conversation on Twitter.

CEW: How do you handle change in the workplace?

KO: Unilever has reorganized numerous times. I handled each change by proactively suggesting ways I can contribute in the new world.

CEW: Any tips on how you keep current with all the trends – especially in digital and social?

KO: I try to live in digital world – I read online mags such as The Skimm and Broadsheet. Also, my nieces and nephews keep me up-to-date on trends!

CEW: What is next for the Dove campaign?

KO: We always have exciting things going on. Watch this space: #speakbeautiful.

CEW: What is the most shocking and surprising lesson you’ve learned throughout your career?

KO: Take the job nobody wants!

CEW: What are you most proud of in your career?
KO: I’m proud to build strong teams that are surprised by the impact they’re able to achieve when working together.

CEW: How do you maintain a work/life balance, especially in “always-on” fields like social?

KO: Spending time with friends, family and my husband is important and draws me to spend time outside of work.

CEW: How have mentors impacted your career?

KO: The best mentors have been the people who pushed me to do the things I didn’t think I was capable of doing.

CEW: What surprised you the most while working at Unilever?

KO: I’ve had so many diverse jobs while at Unilever – it’s surprising that one company has kept me interested for so long!

CEW: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago?

KO: Focus on what you are good at and strengthen those areas to offset your skills that may not come as naturally.