Heather Hayes came from working in the business-to-consumer and hospitality backgrounds, so "learning a highly technical business and switching gears to working with plastics" is her own mold she's breaking.
"I've spent many hours reading, asking questions, connecting with the experts and building relationships to become what I hope is a trusted colleague and manager," said Hayes, corporate marketing manager for North America for Nexeo Plastics LLC. "Overcoming my fear of not knowing anything about plastics to learning as much as possible, I'm proud to be where I am today and excited for what's next at Nexeo Plastics, the industry and the materials."
Her first job in the plastics industry was marketing campaign manager for thermoplastics resin distributor Nexeo. She was interested in the industry, having come from a business-to-consumer background "where digital strategies, technologies and touch points were more common than B2B [business to business] and the role I was interviewing for was more grassroots."
"I wanted a challenge and to work in B2B," she said. "Plastics also interested me because I wanted to learn more about something we use every day and possibly add a different perspective coming from B2C."
As corporate marketing manager, Hayes leads Nexeo's brand strategy and marketing efforts "through targeted content and digital strategies focused on customer and supplier experience."
Hayes received a bachelor's degree in marketing from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, and she will have a certification in marketing leadership from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management in December 2021. She is a member of the American Marketing Association.
Her greatest professional achievement was being hired to an industry to which she was new, Hayes said.
"It's challenging to even get a call when you don't have the industry experience. I'm thankful for the opportunity because I've learned more than I ever imagined possible and still have a lot more learning to go," she said.
Hayes said her career highlight is happening right now.
"I'm in the middle of building a team of talented individuals focused on a common goal," she said, "and those efforts are supported by leaders that believe and understand the value of an integrated marketing team."
Hayes was nominated by Romelia Hinojosa, corporate communications manager for GPD Companies Inc.
Q: What has been the biggest impact or challenge on your career from the coronavirus pandemic?
Hayes: Digital is key and so is onboarding colleagues and ensuring our new team members feel welcome and supported as they learn the company and their role. I say digital as far as impact — the pandemic highlighted the critical component of having digital tools and platforms that not only support your backend processes, but also employee engagement, as well as customer and vendor experiences (not specific to Nexeo but the world). Being fascinated by digital engagement, it was interesting to see how quickly society adapted to digital platforms and engagement.
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
Hayes: Technology: AI, augmented/virtual reality and blockchain. The possibilities are endless, and it's fascinating. Market: sustainability. There are so many layers to sustainability from a corporate perspective, a product perspective and ultimately a personal perspective.
Q: Who is your mentor or someone you look up to?
Hayes: I've always admired strong business leaders that have come from such adversity yet never let their challenges or fear stop them from achieving success. It motivates me to continually evolve and adapt, maintain perspective and to not let up, even when faced with adversity.