Business Leadership Roundtable: Mary Kay Haben

By Kim Lange 


Mary Kay Haben has an especially strong connection to UIUC.  She is past chair of the Illiinois alumni association; her husband is also an alumnus of UIUC; and their son is currently a UIUC student in the College of Business.  Before taking her current position at Wrigley last year, Haben spent 27 years at Kraft Foods, where she was able to hone her leadership skills while successfully managing consumer goods businesses, developing new products and packaging, and growing existing brands.


Throughout her years in business, Haben has seen a large shift that affects all of us today.  In the 1970s and 80s, companies basically stuck to manufacturing and selling goods, and consumers purchased these items without much concern about the company itself.  We as consumers didn’t know, and didn’t care about, who the CEO was of the business.  “The product was the star of the company,” notes Haben, “more than the company that made the product, and certainly more than the CEO.”


This condition contrasts sharply with today, when consumers are buying