Education: B.A., Russian, Brandeis University
First job: Giving piano lessons to neighborhood kids
Career moves: Started working at Tootsie Roll in 1970 as a corporate secretary. Moved up to investments, then vice president of product development and quality assurance before being named president and chief operating officer in 1978.
Boards: Northwestern Kellogg School of Management, Harvard Medical School, University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, Unilever Bestfoods, Stanford School of Business
What is the greatest business lessons you have learned?
People. They truly are the company's best, most precious assets. We make sure to protect our brands. You have to be lean. Be frugal, but spend on opportunities. Make investment spending in your products and your brands.
What has been your greatest business challenge, and how did you overcome it?
Creating profitable sales. Purchasing a quality product that has the same formula as the original one for about 107 or 108 years now. The quality has to permeate almost every aspect of what you do, and you have to be sure that you never cut your quality. We invest a lot of money in our own company.
Whom do you admire most in business?
There are so many wonderful executives I can't think of one in particular. Certainly the founders, the Andy Groves of the world. I admired them for their hard work, innovation, their integrity, their creativity and their ability to build teams.