Shepherding Unilever Toward Big Global Marketing Ideas

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19 of 25 > GO TO Next 2005 Woman to Watch

There’s a lot more to Carol Potter than detergents and deodorants.

As global business director on Unilever at WPP Group’s JWT, these everyday products are obviously among her priorities.

Carol Potter, global business director on Unilever at JWT.
But Ms. Potter is a woman who has traveled the world, lived the fast life with an Italian playboy, achieved phenomenal career success and still finds time to be a mom.

Challenging time for agency and marketer
Ms. Potter takes on the Unilever role at a challenging time: Both client and agency are undergoing a process of fundamental change. Her first task is to win the $300 million global detergents pitch against Interpublic Group of Cos.’ Lowe Worldwide.

”There is a greater enthusiasm at Unilever to develop and implement big global ideas across brands,” Ms. Potter says. “The pitch is a fabulous opportunity to show them what we as the new JWT can do; the door is open.”

Ms. Potter is comfortable with global challenges. After successfully starting her career at Saatchi & Saatchi, London, she went traveling for a year and then took a job at Foote Cone & Belding in Sydney. A member of the family that owns Italian spirits brand Cinzano became her boyfriend, and the pair moved back to London. Ms. Potter gave up work for a year until she found out being rich and aimless wasn’t her vocation.

Back to work
Instead, she took a job running L’Oreal at Lowe. “It was a harsh, competitive environment with high standards, where I learned how to sell work and developed an understanding of the creative process,” she says.

Tim Bell, now chairman of WPP’s Chime Communications, employed Ms. Potter first at Saatchi and then at Lowe. He describes her as “extremely determined and very single-minded. She’s been fantastically successful and rightly so. ... Martin [Sorrell, WPP's chief executive] is right to showcase her talents. She’s a brilliant girl.”

After five years at Lowe, Ms. Potter looked at setting up her own production company but instead took a top job on Kellogg Co. at JWT, Tokyo. “Those two-and-a-half years had a disproportionate effect on my life,” she says. “It was brutal pain for the first year, and then I came out the other side and had a ball. It was a liberating, rewarding and satisfying experience.”

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