businessperson Ellen Marram. Specifically, it will profile Ellen Marram and her position in the market economy. Ellen Marram is a woman who got her MBA at a time when few women were majoring in business, and fewer still were gaining their MBAs. She has had a long and varied business career, and continues to change and grow as the face of business grows across the globe.
Ellen R. Marram has a long and varied career in American business, and has gained notoriety for a variety of business moves and her position in the market economy. Marram graduated in 1968 from Wellesley College with a degree in economics. In 2001, the College awarded her an Alumnae Achievement Award. Marram received her MBA in 1970 from the prestigious Harvard Business School, when women MBAs were quite few and far between. The Harvard Business School has also awarded Marram an Alumni Achievement Award.
She then began her business career in Marketing at Lever Brothers, and then moved to Johnson & Johnson Personal Products. She joined Standard Brands, Inc., in 1977, and stayed with the company after Nabisco acquired them in 1981. When Marram began her career at Standard Brands, she worked as a group products manager, and moved into the vice-president position after the takeover by Nabisco. Her career at Nabisco bloomed, and she worked her way to president of the Grocery Division in 1987, where her responsibilities included “eight different functional areas: marketing, business development, finance, manufacturing, information systems, quality assurance, personnel, and research and development” (Forbes and Piercy 90). In 1988, just one year later, she moved to the top spot in Nabisco, becoming president and CEO of Nabisco Biscuit Company. It was during her time at Nabisco that Marram created a low-fat alternative to high fat snack foods that became the well-known and best-selling brand – SnackWell’s.
Looking for new challenges, Marram left Nabisco in 1993, and moved to Tropicana Beverages to take over the president and chief executive position.
She moved from Nabisco to be president and chief executive of Tropicana Beverage Group, then a division of Seagram Co. While she was at the helm, she turned lackluster Tropicana into a global juice-industry leader. At one time, she had expected Tropicana to go public and had planned to remain head of the newly independent company. Instead, Seagram sold the unit to PepsiCo Inc., in August, 1998. Three months later, Marram quit and announced she was looking for a CEO slot in a major consumer-products company (Brady).
Marram’s career was at it’s height after she left Tropicana, which she had taken from a local Florida company to a global entity with plants in Asia and Europe and orange groves in Asia. During her tenure at Tropicana, she was named one of the Top 25 Managers of the Year 1998 by Business Week magazine. Her next challenge came in 1999, when she took over leadership of a small, start-up Internet company called efdex Inc. The company planned to act as an online food and drink exchange and trading system where purveyors and clients could meet globally and create business opportunities and alliances.
However, Marram’s tenure at efdex lasted less than a year, and although neither the company nor Marram would discuss the details, rumors spread Marram was removed from her leadership role by the company’s board of directors. Later, the company folded. Her disappointment in the dot.com world did not last long. In September of 2000, she joined North Castle Partnership, located in Stanford, Connecticut, where she is chairman and a managing partner in charge of the company’s beverage lines, including “Fantasia Fresh Juice Co., Naked Juice, M.H. Zeigler and Sons, Orchid Island Juice Co., Saratoga Beverage Group and Wiman Beverage Co. Her company is the country’s largest fresh and refrigerated premium beverage business” (Trigaux). Marram’s tenure at North Castle seems to be stable and just what she was looking for at this time in her career. While she enjoyed her time in the dot.com world, “I’ve learned about the Internet and technology,’ she says” (Brady), it is clear Marram’s career path leans toward more traditional packaged goods and beverage business, rather than in the World Wide Web.
As Marram’s career continued, so did her notoriety and global presence, partly as a result of her uncanny ability to understand both her employees’ and her consumers’ needs. One co-worker once noted, “She’s almost obsessive about understanding the customer” (Hamm). Marram has always concerned herself with her employees’ well being as well as changing trends in consumer buying habits. One writer notes:
Before Marram was hired by Seagram’s in 1989 to run the juice subsidiary, Tropicana saw itself as a commodity orange juice business: If you squeeze it, they will come. But Marram saw that consumers were increasingly interested in healthy beverages. She made a marketing coup out of Tropicana’s process of using fresh juice — not concentrate. She added vitamins and minerals, like calcium. And she got the American Medical Assn. To endorse orange juice and slapped that label on Tropicana cartons (Hamm).
Thus, Marram has taken some of the most well-known brands in America, and recreated them in today’s marketplace to appeal to even more consumers. Her success at Tropicana led to the sale of the company to PepsiCo., and her success with low-fat SnackWell’s at Nabisco is also legendary. SnackWell’s were named one of the most successful new foods of the 90s.
In addition to her many business affiliations and duties, she is also a motivated member of the community and non-profit organizations.
Marram is a Director of Ford Motor Company and the New York Times and serves on many other boards of both non-profit organizations and private companies. She also serves on the boards of The New York and Presbyterian Hospital, Lincoln Center Theater, The Conference Board, The Families and Work Institute and Citymeals-on-Wheels (Staff).
Clearly, Ellen R. Marram is a strong and confident businessperson who knows her markets, her consumers, and her own strengths. She supports and empowers her employees, and she confidently dreams up new ideas that are profitable and innovative. In her 30-year career, she has taken some of America’s largest companies and made them even more profitable and successful. Ellen Marram is a leader, a forward thinker, and a credit to any company she leads. Marram is married with two grown stepchildren and a grandchild, and enjoys “traveling, especially in Eastern Europe and Asia; reading biographies, history, or mystery novels” (Resume).
Quotes from Marram:
While president of Seagram’s Beverage Group, she noted: “While growing one’s business is important, I think it’s equally important to grow one’s employees. Many of the people I’ve worked with in the past have gone on to run other divisions and companies, and I feel good about any contribution I may have made to their learning and development. It’s a role I take seriously'”
Well, would anyone leave a meeting where their boss was speaking to go to the washroom?”
Before she ended her short tenure at efdex. “The key is customer service,” she says. “We can’t just sign a lot of companies up. We’ve got to train them on how to use the system” (Hamm).
A lot of New Economy companies need to grow earnings, not just revenue, while traditional companies need to grow revenue and not just earnings” (Brady).
I’m not always as patient as I should be” (Resume).
Link to corporate info sheet on Naked Juice at Yahoo!.com http://biz.yahoo.com/ic/103/103490.html
Brady, Diane. ” Ellen Marram’s Not-So-Excellent Dot-Com Adventure.” BusinessWeek.com. 24 May 2000. 13 Nov. 2003. http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/may2000/nf00524c.htm
Forbes, J. Benjamin, and James E. Piercy. Corporate Mobility and Paths to the Top: Studies for Human Resource and Management Development Specialists. New York: Quorum Books, 1991.
Hamm, Steve. “Movers and Shakers.” BusinessWeek.com. 11 Aug. 1999. 13 Nov. 2003. http://www.businessweek.com/ebiz/9908/em0811.htm
Marram, Ellen R. “Resume.” BusinessWeek.com. 1999. 14 Nov. 2003. http://www.businessweek.com/1999/99_38/b3647101.htm
Novak, Michael. “Profits with Honor.” Policy Review (1996): 50+.
Staff. “Ellen Marram.” Wellesley College. 2001. 13 Nov. 2003. http://www.wellesley.edu/Alum/Special_Programs/Awards/2001/marram.html
Stevenson, Mark. “Indomitable Showman.” Canadian Business Oct. 1994: 22+.
Trigaux, Robert. “Execs Flinch in Brave new Tech World.” St. Petersburg Times. 22 Dec. 2000. 14 Nov. 2003. http://www.sptimes.com/News/122200/Columns/Execs_flinch_in_brave.shtml
Note: Photos for visuals are available at several of the web sites mentioned.