Mara Lapp 97BBA, a senior brand manager at Georgia-Pacific, is a member of the Goizueta Alumni Board and serves on Emory | business (EB)Magazine Alumni Advisory Board. She recently shared with the magazine how she manages the competing responsibilities of her marketing career and personal life.
EB: Please tell us about your career at Georgia-Pacific.
Lapp: I interned at Georgia-Pacific while getting my MBA at Vanderbilt and started as an associate brand manager in 2002, moving to customer planning in 2005. I’ve managed to work part-time since 2007, and in 2008 I moved back to marketing, working on our customer brands tissue business. In January 2012 I joined a newly created team for new category development.
EB: Would you share insights you’ve gleaned from pursuing a career within one company?
Lapp: I am one of very few people I know from my MBA class who has stayed with the same company since graduation. I feel very lucky to continue to find challenging and exciting roles within Georgia-Pacific, so I have not needed to go externally to find other opportunities. I’m currently part of the new category development group, where I am leading the commercialization of Georgia-Pacific’s entry into a new category. This is a very fun and exciting role, and I think I was selected because of my long tenure and cross-functional experience within the company. After having been with Georgia-Pacific for over 10 years, I know the right people with the right knowledge to help me get things done in the most efficient and effective way, which helps me build my own organizational credibility.
EB: Would you describe a professional or personal challenge you are facing?
Lapp: Achieving a good work-life balance is a constant struggle, and it has been more difficult lately as demands from both have increased. I am fortunate to have been able to work part-time for as long as I have. All of my supervisors have been understanding, allowing me to work when and where I need to. My husband of ten years is a true partner in raising our six-year-old son and three-year-old daughter.
EB: Any advice you’d like to share with alumni?
Lapp: It is possible to do it all. You just have to adjust your definition of all. At graduation, doing it all, to me, meant being a CEO or CMO. Now with my part-time schedule, doing it all means staying challenged and intellectually stimulated at work while maintaining a strong organizational reputation and still being able to pick my kids up from school, volunteer in their classrooms, go to practices and games, help with homework, and have a family dinner most evenings.
– Susan Merritt Jordan