© Daniel Neff
Stephanie Ruyle '02
pushes her skills to stay 'green and growing'
'02 has a message for women who don't feel sufficiently
supported or challenged in their jobs: Move on.
Ruyle has taken
her own advice throughout her career. The Kellogg School grad
has moved from the snack-food industry into cable television,
from sales into marketing, and from Chicago to New York. She
has constantly reassessed her skills and goals, devising her
own "management training program" to turn weaknesses into
"It's about taking
your career into your own hands, which men tend to do very
well because they can look up, down and around and see many
other men they can use as role models," Ruyle says.
Such models are
less plentiful for women, which can make it difficult for
females to define and achieve success, Ruyle says.
Ruyle is a vice
president of field and national marketing for MTV Networks.
She and her team develop strategies to support MTVN's affiliates
as they promote the network's brands, which include MTV, VH1
It's a long way
from the streets of Gary, Ind., where Ruyle delivered Frito-Lay
potato chips at dawn in her first job after college.
Ruyle had joined
the company as a management trainee after graduating from
the University of Iowa with a business degree. The training
program required her to spend her first year managing a sales
route as a delivery driver to gain a first-hand understanding
of her sales team's job.
After just one
year, she was promoted to district manager - the only woman
to hold the position in the sprawling Chicago area.
After five years
with Frito-Lay, Ruyle became restless and decided to explore
opportunities in different industries. When a friend alerted
her to an opening at MTV's Chicago offices, Ruyle jumped to
"It was a sales
position, working with distributors and selling our cable
networks to cable operators," Ruyle says. "I was selling different
products in a different industry, but there were tons of transferable
Ruyle discovered an environment in which she felt truly comfortable.
"It was such a diverse environment," she recalls. "I felt
I could express myself."
Over the next several
years, Ruyle sought opportunities to round out her skills
by taking positions that at first felt difficult or uncomfortable.
While still responsible for her sales territory, she volunteered
to manage a group working on distribution efforts against
smaller cable operators. Realizing she lacked account experience,
she offered to manage an account that was heading into negotiations.
And rather than stay in a familiar sales territory, she requested
a larger territory each time one became available.
To further enhance
her abilities and prepare to manage a larger group of people,
Ruyle applied to the Kellogg EMBA program in 2000. So began
a grueling two years of managing one of MTVN's most challenging
accounts as well as her sales territory while also shouldering
a graduate-school workload.
The Kellogg experience
convinced Ruyle that she was ready for yet another challenge:
a switch from sales into marketing. "I knew that marketing
is such a critical part of MTVN and I had limited experience
in that area," Ruyle says. "There were a couple of openings
at our headquarters in New York City so I decided to go for
it. Kellogg was critical in giving me confidence in the skills
I had developed during my EMBA experience."
Ruyle applied for
and won the position of director of affiliate marketing for
MTV2. Taking the job entailed a significant pay cut and a
new field to master. But the risk paid off. After one year,
Ruyle was named to her current position.
"I'm focused much
more on strategy, and on positioning and promoting our brands,"
she says. "This is very much where I want to be."
But if history
offers any example, Ruyle won't grow stale in this position
"I need to be green
and growing," she says. "It's for my self-preservation. When
I get bored, I'm not sharp. I'm not focused. I'm my own barometer.
I know when to move on, and I am lucky there are opportunities
to do that here at MTV Networks."
to Denise Palmer '80
to Success Stories