women / Women in Business

The Influence of Vicki Escarra

Many of our feature profiles focus on entrepreneurial women and those leading the business industry. But, who do these women – and other high profile executives – go to for advice during and after their tenure? What do they do when there are difficult team decisions to be made, and how do they ensure strategic goals are met?

With executive roles at a Fortune 100 airline, two nationally recognized nonprofits, and a major civic organization, as well as board experience in healthcare, financial services, and higher education, Vicki has gained a wealth of experience during her executive career that spans over three decades. Now, she is combining this experience with her network to provide strategic expertise.

As the past CMO of Delta Airlines, Vicki managed $15B in revenue and 52,000 employees, leading the airline to receive an award for Airline of the Year during her tenure. At Feeding America, she increased donations by 300%, doubled the population serviced, and quadrupled the revenue. And, in her most recent role as Global CEO of Opportunity International, Vicki led a staff of 20,000, a donor base of 30,000, and 17 million clients across 22 countries towards working to reduce extreme poverty. What is obvious from this experience is that Vicki is no stranger to making tough operational and strategic decisions, and executing these decisions across a large team.

“I have always seen myself as a leader that can motivate the knowledge and capabilities in others to unleash value in their organizations,” said Vicki.

Now the Founder of her own consultancy, Vicki Escarra LLC, Vicki is taking the perspectives she has gained and showcasing her leadership and coaching skills to properly position fellow executives and enable them to achieve similar success.

“I started to think about what it was that led me to my previous successes, and how this knowledge and expertise could be passed on to others. Vicki Escarra LLC was spurred from my experience with the personal fulfillment that can come from reaching goals and realizing I had the passion and the unique ability to assist others in reaching their greatest potential.”

Partnering with targeted consultancies such as My Next Season and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Vicki participates in rigorous discussions, assists clients in attracting and empowering talent, and partners with them to execute strategic plans.

“While every day is different, a sample day of my work with a new client would include discussing what business issues need addressing as a part of our relationship. We would talk about those privately and with a group of his/her constituents which includes direct reports, board of directors, and customers. We would take those conversations to develop a business case which can include any of the following: New strategy, products, services; Business performance issues; Turnover, morale; Culture change; Acquisition, merger; Market shifts; Assimilation of new leadership. We would then begin the process of working together every couple of weeks to ensure alignment around progress against the business case and pinpoint measurable results and behaviors that accompany those results. At the end of the day, I’m looking to assist leaders in understanding what problem they’re trying to solve, gather feedback on how to solve it, communicate that information to the leader and measure results to improve the performance we set out in the business case.

This approach also works with individuals who have made a decision to retire or move to another organization. It’s defining the business case and setting up processes to get them to their end game successfully and with a sense of fulfillment.”

Vicki’s strong ties to the Chicago community and her global connections form a reliable and valuable support network for her work. She is also an avid support of women in business, a dedication that has seen her receive several awards including the Women Extraordinaire Award and the Women of Influence Award, as well as membership on the Committee of 200 and the Economic Club of Chicago.

“I will always be committed to leaning in and building up women in business and entrepreneurship. I believe that women can add a unique perspective to the marketplace and can provide valuable leadership direction when placed in positions of influence. By working together, we can ensure that this perspective is not only heard but respected, and that young women today can reach important roles in management.”

For business owners and entrepreneurs alike, women such as Vicki are paving the way for others to step into and maintain positions of influence in their communities.

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