Betsy Koenig Smith
Product and sustainability marketing manager | Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. | Akron, Ohio | Age: 34
What was your first job in the industry?
I began my career within Goodyear’s procurement organization, initially managing indirect spend that supported the operations of our manufacturing plants within North America. I enjoyed building connections with the plant purchasing managers and supply base. I held two subsequent roles within the procurement organization which included managing global innovation spend and then sourcing global fabric raw material requirements. My procurement experience has served as a great foundation throughout my career.
What attracted you to the industry?
I’m from northeast Ohio, and I recognize the impact the tire industry has had on this area throughout history. Goodyear’s distinguished brand and global footprint attracted me during my career search, and the importance of our products has continually motivated me throughout my career. If you take a moment to consider the value tires bring on an individual, societal and industrial level, the impact is vast.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
I’ve pursued opportunities in the past with brand new responsibilities or even newly created roles, and I learned to enjoy the challenge of paving a pathway and establishing something from scratch. I believe innovation shapes the future, and when the development process presents challenges, I always remind myself – ‘if it were easy, it would have been done already.’
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
My parents held longstanding careers and throughout my upbringing, they both exemplified and taught some key values that influenced my personal development and professional approach. A few beliefs that have served me well include: Always follow-through on your commitments — your words have to mean something. Be prepared and presentable out of respect for yourself and others and treat others as you’d like to be treated. Choose positivity — your attitude is a choice.
What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
Reflecting on my career, it is hard to pick a single accomplishment as my experiences and successes seem more like stepping-stones. Recently, I took on a role focused on connecting sustainability to our product design and marketing approach. Being selected for the role was a big personal accomplishment, and the work has already proven to be very rewarding. More generally, learning how to seize opportunities by putting in the work and delivering results when the time comes is an important skill that I have improved upon over time, and I will continue to focus on for the rest of my career.
Tell us about your current job and responsibilities. How do you spend your workday?
Within product marketing, I collaborate cross-functionally on a daily basis to make our portfolio strategy become a reality.
What's been the biggest surprise of your current job?
How exciting developing new tires really is. I love the cross-functional nature of the work!
Tell us about your family.
My grandma lived with my family growing up and continued to live with my parents until recently when she died at the age of 102. It was a true pleasure having her around for so long, and we often reflected on the considerable change she experienced throughout her long lifetime. My husband and I live within the same neighborhood as both of my siblings — my older brother and my twin sister — and we are all close friends.
If you could wake up tomorrow with one new skill, what would you choose?
I would like to have a better understanding of business financials.
In a single word, how would your friends describe you?
If you could switch jobs for a day, what job/who would you choose to swap with, and why?
I'd try out a day as an olive farmer in Portugal! My husband and I traveled there this year, and the Douro Valley, where there are grapevines and olive trees as far as the eye can see, was my favorite place.
What's the biggest issue facing the tire industry?
Making our business model more sustainable as well as aligning on impact priorities for our industry is a big opportunity. It will require a lot of change, innovation and business development, and I'm excited about the journey ahead!
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A figure skater or a teacher.
What goal did you set for yourself this year? Are you on track to reach it?
I set some personal goals around developing my managerial skills, and I have maintained dedication throughout the year. I am on track to creating habits that work well for myself and my team.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
From a professional perspective, I hope to be at the height of my career working on business strategy and developing up-and-coming talent. From a personal perspective, I hope to have a healthy and happy family and maybe a vacation home to enjoy when we can get away from daily life.