Women to Watch 2010

Women to Watch: Sarah Robb O'Hagan

Chief Marketing Officer, Gatorade

By Published on .

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- For Sarah Robb O' Hagan, chief marketing officer at Gatorade, running is a good way to keep in touch with the brand's consumer, generate ideas and handle the pressure of steering one of PepsiCo's largest brands.

Surely those runs are becoming more and more important as Ms. Robb O' Hagan, 38, steers Gatorade through the biggest reinvention in its history and looks to return the multibillion-dollar brand to growth. Gatorade saw a 15.5% decline in volume last year, but executives have committed to delivering 4% to 6% revenue growth, following a job-led economic recovery.

Early last year, the brand launched its much-dissected G campaign, and it's now in the throes of a major product overhaul, introducing products for before, during and after physical activity. The goal: transforming Gatorade from just a sports drink to a sports-performance innovation brand. Ms. Robb O' Hagan has some experience in that particular arena, having spent nearly six years at Nike, where she oversaw the Air Max 360 launch, worked to develop the company's fledgling action-sports business and was involved in the creation of Nike Plus.

"Nike is definitely a very creative, innovative culture, and creativity is what leads to breakthrough thinking and innovation," Ms. Robb O' Hagan said. "A lot of that is what we've been focused on at Gatorade."

Gordon Thompson, a 20-year Nike veteran who is now a freelance consultant for Gatorade, said Ms. Robb O' Hagan is someone who leads by example. "I love leaders who walk the walk. ... The ability to be able to use the product the way it was meant to be used, comment on the product yourself, internalize what's right and wrong about it and give that direct feedback as a leader is important," he said. "Sarah is personally engaged. You can get a lot of store-bought leaders with M.B.A.'s up the wazoo that can write a deck, but they don't have passion. When I think of Sarah, that's one word I think of: passion."

That passion also spills over into her personal life. Her family is active and into sports, she said, with any one of her three young children apt to join her on a run, even if it is in a jogging stroller, for now. The New Zealand native also became an American citizen a few years ago, something she said was important to her because her children were all born in the U.S.

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