Customer service leader excited to be Executive-in-Residence

Barbara A. Fitzgerald '73 has two passions in life - great customer service and pets. Lucky for her, she's found a way to combine the two into a very successful career as the Senior Vice President of Store Operations for PetSmart.

Now she has an opportunity to share her experience and fervor in these fields with a select group of Marietta College students during the 2007-08 school year.

Fitzgerald, who is on the Marietta College Board of Trustees, has agreed to be the third Executive-in-Residence (EIR) for the McDonough Center for Leadership and Business during the 2007-08 academic year.

"My passion has always been the Customer and the experience we provide - no matter where or when. If the interactions we have with Customers are not consistent and reliable than nothing else about that brand or business really matters," said Fitzgerald, who earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Marietta. "Every business talks about being Customer focused when in reality very few make it part of their culture. Until it is, the Customer will never receive the experience they desire and deserve. But when businesses put the Customer experience ahead of everything else then it isn't about mere satisfaction but true delight - and that is what builds loyalty."

Fitzgerald is excited about the opportunity to work with the College's customer - the students. She will assist McDonough's faculty and students to develop and implement two projects: Customer Service Workshop and Consulting with a Local Business.

Fitzgerald and the McDonough faculty will recruit a group of students to develop a Customer Service Workshop to be offered to local businesses. The team will then organize the workshop with Fitzgerald as the main workshop leader, and later on provide consulting services to a local retail-oriented business interested in establishing a customer-focused strategy.

In the fall semester Fitzgerald and McDonough faculty will recruit the two teams. Fitzgerald will make two visits to campus: one to meet potential participants in the project and another to meet the teams after they have been established. The second visit also will be used to identify the local retail-oriented business that will be involved in the consulting project.

During the spring semester, the teams will work closely with Fitzgerald during the early part of the semester. Team 1 will design the workshop and recruit local businesses to participate in this event. Team 2 will work with a local business to establish a customer-focused strategy. Toward the end of the semester, Fitzgerald will return to campus and help the two teams implement their projects.

"We are very excited about Barbara Fitzgerald's participation in the Executive-in-Residence Program at McDonough. She will provide a wonderful experience for students who are interested in customer service," said Dr. Gama Perruci, Dean of McDonough. "Her projects also will become a great contribution to the community. She truly exemplifies McDonough's mission of 'giving back the gift.' By sharing her experience with students and local businesses, she will bring many gifts to Marietta. We are very fortunate to have her as our next executive-in-residence."

Fitzgerald's professional career began as a management trainee for Sears, Roebuck and Co. in New Jersey. She spent 24 years with Sears in numerous store operations positions (including store general manger and district general manager), home improvement store support positions and strategic planning. Her last assignment was vice president and general manager for Sears Freestanding Hardware Stores, an off the mall chain she grew to 150 stores in three years.

She left Sears in 1997 and joined Toys "R" Us as vice president and general manager for New York and New Jersey, the company's largest market with annual sales of $1 billion. Fitzgerald was promoted to vice president of people development and led the company-wide initiative (This Magic Moment) designed to transform Toys "R" Us into a customer-focused organization.

In early 2000 Fitzgerald was named president of Harmon AutoGlass, then the nation's second largest installer of replacement windshields. She joined PetSmart at the end of that year as senior vice president of store operations. In that position she has led the strategic focus on customer service, launching a company-wide service initiative—PetSmart Unleashed. She also serves as a board member of PetSmart Charities.

Marietta's EIR has become a signature component to the McDonough experience. The EIR allows a senior executive from a major business enterprise to spend a meaningful period of time on campus interacting with students and faculty. The Executive-in-Residence shares his/her own perspective on leadership—drawn from his/her experience in the business world. In turn, students and faculty have an opportunity to gain their own insights through their interaction with the EIR. This reciprocal relationship is the hallmark of the program.

Last year, two teams of McDonough students partnered with international marketing expert Robert E. Peterson '76 and developed a communications plan for two local companies.

The first EIR was Henry Jelinek '68, who conducted presentations and team-taught a course that focused on international business leadership issues.

The McDonough Center provides the Executive-in-Residence with his/her own spacious office and clerical support. The office is fully equipped - including computer, printer, scanner, fax machine, copier, telephone, and Internet access. The Center also has an Executive Suite in its building that can be used by the Executive-in-Residence. He/she also will have full access to the College's Dyson Baudo Recreation Center - located next to the McDonough building.