First Name: Sharon
Last Name: Macleod
Job Title: VP Personal Care, North America
Hometown: Brookville, Ontario
Area of Study: Marketing
Growing up on a farm in the small town of Brookville, Sharon Macleod wanted to do everything her three older brothers did. When farm work needed to be done, gender was never an issue. It is no surprise that throughout her career, Macleod has been an advocate for furthering career opportunities for women in business.
A graduate of both the University of Guelph's Bachelor of Commerce program (majoring in Marketing Management) and the Master of Science in Marketing and Consumer Studies program, Macleod chose to attend Guelph after a tour of the campus. She appreciated the small, community feel of the Guelph campus and how all facilities are easily accessible. Her commerce degree at Guelph gave her the theoretical training in consumer behaviour and marketing - training she would continue to use throughout her career. She was also lucky enough to spend a year exchange in France. This exchange allowed her to experience a new world outside of Brookville and Guelph, Ontario. Professor Karen Gough (Finlay) from the Department of Marketing and Consumer Studies mentored Macleod during her Masters degree. “Professor Gough’s mentorship was invaluable. She really made me feel like I was a part of the Guelph academic community and pushed me to pursue my career.” Upon graduating, Gough encouraged Macleod to research a unique, up and coming consumer product company, Unilever.
Hired as a brand manager, Macleod quickly rose in the company. In 2006, she was named Director of Brand Building and in 2014, promoted to VP of Personal Care products. Macleod was an early adopter of Unilever's global vision to empower women. She has worked to ensure Unilever's talent pipeline is full of qualified women, to help leaders appreciate the unique contribution women bring to teams and to create more flexible career opportunities for women. Since she became a Canadian business leader, the percent of women in management grew from 43% at the start of 2013 to 50% now.
Not only has she worked to encourage and promote women internally in the organization, but she has also propelled this vision in her work in brand marketing. Unilever's Dove brand learned that 60% of girls were dropping out of activities such as a swimming and soccer, important in developing positive self esteem and reaching their full potential in life. Under Macleod’s leadership, Dove created the Dove Self Esteem Project, now reaching over 1 million Canadian girls with self esteem initiatives.
An appreciation for the unique perspective and approach of women, along with the true power that comes from men and women working together on teams, is what unleashes the growth of a business" - Sharon Macleod