Donna Tweeten Brings 2015 Women in Industry Coffee Group to a Close with Laughter and Lessons


Donna Tweeten Brings 2015 Women in Industry Coffee Group to a Close with Laughter and Lessons

The IGIA Women in Industry Coffee Group held its final networking event of 2015, as well as a donation drive for Dress for Success Des Moines on Tues., Sept. 29. The event featured Donna Tweeten, senior vice president, chief marketing officer for Hy-Vee Inc.

Tweeten shared experiences from her childhood including being bussed to Proviso East High School in Maywood, Ill. At the time, Proviso, which was plagued with violence, was ranked the seventh most dangerous school in the United States. Tweeten talked with humor about the culture shock she experienced after graduating and moving to Iowa to attend Drake University.

Fresh out of school with a degree in journalism, Tweeten went to work for WHO radio as an on-air announcer and producer for the station’s farm programming. “I was horrible at it,” she said, laughing. “I wasn’t from Iowa. I had a Chicago accent. I knew nothing about farming, and I pronounced all the small rural towns wrong.”

Tweeten added that she began looking for a new job shortly after announcing to her audience of farmers the “good news” that July 4th was going to be “another beautiful sunny day.” She delivered this report during one of the worst droughts in the state since the dust bowl.

That search landed her a job at AndersonHowe, a Des Moines ad agency. Throughout most of her time in Iowa, she harbored the desire to return to Chicago one day, and eventually did with a move to DavisHarrisonDion on Michigan Ave.

“I had a great office with a great view, but about two months into the job, something starting gnawing at me,” she recalled. “And, my mind kept ignoring it because I didn’t want to admit that I missed Des Moines.”

Eventually her heart overruled her head and she accepted a position at a Des Moines ad agency MeyocksBenkstein (later called Meyocks & Priebe). Her largest client happened to be Hy-Vee, and she frequently worked with Randy Edeker, who is now Hy-Vee’s CEO.

Hy-Vee later purchased the ad agency, and Tweeten eventually accepted a position at Hy-Vee’s corporate office.

Tweeten described challenges she faced throughout her career path as a female that her male counterparts may never have given a second thought. Most of the men she worked with relied on their spouses to take care of it all — planning meals, cooking, managing the family calendar and shuttling kids to school activities.

As she made her climb from assistant vice president, communications to senior vice president, chief marketing officer, at Hy-Vee, she like most women struggled to manage a household and children (five in her case).

“All that we require of women today is insane,” Tweeten said. “The expectations to perform professionally and personally as a wife, a mother, grandmother, daughter, it’s overwhelming.

“I was asked to talk about how I achieved my life-work balance. Well, I sure wish I had a magic potion, but I don’t. It’s a struggle. I guess, for me, what really helps is that I married the right person. I couldn’t do it without him. He is my biggest supporter.”

At the end of the final meeting for 2015, the IGIA Women in the Industry Coffee group had collected more than 50 new or near-new, business-appropriate items for the Dress for Success Des Moines charity and a number of useful time-management tips. The women’s coffee group will reconvene in 2016 with a new name and format. Watch for details to be announced soon and enjoy the many helpful hints below that participants shared for maintaining a better home—work balance.

Time-Management Tips for Home Life:

  1. Take care of items as you pick them up rather than setting them aside to deal with later. This will reduce clutter.
  2. Make a menu for a week at a time. Organize your shopping list placing items in order of where they are found in the store. Prepare and freeze meals on the weekend for quick meals all week long.
  3. “Out source” where you can — whether it’s hiring a cleaning lady, someone to mow the lawn or buying groceries online. It’s trading money for quality time.
  4. Get the kids involved in household tasks (dishwasher, trash and laundry). When they are old enough, have them do their own laundry. This quickly eliminates the teenage “try it on and throw it on the floor” habit.
  5. Set out the next day’s clothes/workout clothes the night before.
  6. Use a shared calendar to organize school activities and meals so the whole family can see it and be responsible for adding their activities.
  7. Use the weekend to plan ahead for the upcoming workweek; including meals, doctor appointments, etc. Incorporate help from family and friends where needed to get things accomplished. Remember to block out time on the calendar for travel and transit.
  8. Consider using a shared Google calendar so everyone in your family, especially spouses, know about the other’s work travel, meetings, evening events, etc. and can plan around each other’s schedules.

Time-Management Tips for Work Life:

  1. Do what you are avoiding first. Prioritize tasks by thinking about the big picture and what matters most.
  2. Use an Outlook calendar to plan for reoccurring projects and provide insight into managing your day, week, month and year.
  3. Use Evernote to sync your phone and work computer so you can see your notes wherever you are.
  4. Make a timeline for all major projects breaking them into smaller, more manageable steps, each tied to a specific deadline.
  5. Use a system to rank daily tasks by importance. Organize all tasks by A (most important, not necessarily most urgent), B (next most important) or C. Then rank the tasks within each category by number (A-1, A-2, B-1, B-2, B-3). As the work moves on, rewrite the list and rearrange tasks as needed.
  6. Use the “task option” on Outlook and assign a date and time to every task.
  7. Immediately follow up or schedule a follow-up on any requests made of you at a meeting.
  8. Make a list at the beginning of each day. The act of crossing tasks off a list provides a wonderful sense of accomplishment.
  9. Give yourself permission to focus on the task at hand. Shut your door, set aside a finite amount of time, concentrate, stick to it and complete the task within that timeframe.