SE Episode 106: The Humanity of Taking Care of Each Other w/ Kathy Mazzarella

Kathy Mazzarella, Chairman, President, and CEO at Graybar, on the Something Extra Podcast

In this episode of Something Extra, Kathy Mazzarella shares wisdom on the humanity of taking care of each other, becoming better in varying opportunities, and how to lead from the truth that people long to know that they and their work matters. 

Bio: Kathleen M. Mazzarella is chairman, president and chief executive officer at Graybar, an employee-owned, FORTUNE 500 distributor of electrical, communications and data networking products. Kathy has developed broad management, sales, marketing and human resources experience over her 40 years with the company. She also has an extensive educational background, proven leadership skills and strategic vision, all of which enable her to focus Graybar’s executive team on strategic issues that are affecting the company.

Kathy joined the company in 1980 as a customer service representative at San Francisco. She progressed through various sales positions before transferring to St. Louis as a senior sales representative in 1984. In 1991 she was named field sales manager in St. Louis and was appointed district marketing manager the following year. In 1994 Kathy joined Graybar’s corporate headquarters as national product manager and was named director of sales in 1997. The following year she was appointed vice president, corporate accounts and international, a position she held until June 2001, when she was promoted to vice president, strategic planning. In January 2004, she was promoted to vice president, human resources and strategic planning and was elected to Graybar’s Board of Directors. Kathy was named senior vice president, human resources and strategic planning in December 2005. In April 2008, she became senior vice president, sales and marketing comm/data and in March 2010, was appointed senior vice president, sales and marketing. In December 2010, she was appointed to the position of executive vice president and chief operating officer. She was appointed the 11th president and chief executive officer in company history in June of 2012 and became chairman of the board of directors in January of 2013. Kathy serves as Chair of the Executive Committee of the Board and as Chair of the Employees’ Benefit, Finance and IT Committees of the Company.

Kathy holds an associate degree in telecommunications engineering, a bachelor’s degree in applied behavioral sciences and a master’s degree in business administration. She has attended executive education training at Harvard Business School, Wharton, University of Michigan, and Northwestern’s Kellogg Business School.

Kathy currently serves on the Board of Directors of Waste Management, Inc., a New York Stock Exchange-listed company, and as a member of its Management Development and Compensation Committee and as chair of its Nominating & Governance Committee. She serves on the board of Cigna Corporation, also a New York Stock Exchange-listed company, and as a member of its Finance and People Resources Committees. She also serves on the board of Civic Progress as a member of its Executive Committee.In addition, she serves on the boards of Core & Main LP, AllianceSTL, the Saint Louis Club and Bogey Club, as well as the Webster University Business and Technology Advisory Board. She is a member of The Business Council, Vistage Worldwide, Inc., the International Women’s Forum, The Committee of 200 and The American Cancer Society’s CEOs Against Cancer of Missouri – St. Louis Chapter. Kathy formerly served as board Chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and as a board member of the United Way of Greater St. Louis.

Kathy’s business achievements and community involvement helped her earn several recognitions, including the St. Louis “40 Under 40” award in 2000 and the “Most Influential Businesswomen in St. Louis” award in 2004. Kathy’s views on human resources strategy were included as a chapter in Inside the Minds, a book featuring interviews with top HR practitioners across the United States. She was also featured as one of the “Women Worth Watching in 2010” in the September/October 2009 issue of Profiles in Diversity Journal. Kathy has been the driving force behind the establishment of a women’s networking group at Graybar and in promoting careers for women in the wholesale distribution industry. In 2011, she received the Outstanding Alumna Award from the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology at Webster University. In 2014, Kathy was recognized by the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis as one of its distinguished women in leadership. In 2015, she earned the Women in Industry Trailblazer Award from the National Association of Electrical Distributors and was recognized as a Leader of Distinction by the YWCA of Metro St. Louis. In 2019, she was honored as a Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame Laureate.

Kathy’s Elizabeth’s Something Extra: Genuine belief in the power of your organization and in the potential of your people. “A leader has to have a vision of what is possible and then a belief that your team can and are going to get there.” 

Links and Mentions:

– Lisa Nichols, Host
– Scott Crosby, Executive Producer
– Daniel Williams, Recording Engineer