Cathy Sturdivant – A Leader in Product Development

As a product development leader, Cathy Sturdivant has been instrumental in the creation of some of the highest grossing products in her industry, including her most recent success, Diva Cup for Women. A self-proclaimed product geek, Cathy has spent much of her career searching out new and exciting ways to improve on products that are already being used by millions of people every day. Learn more about how this accomplished product developer has helped revolutionize the way women around the world manage their feminine hygiene needs every month.

Lesson #1: Tap into your core strengths

In a recent interview, Cathy Sturdivant shared her key to success: I really like understanding the customer’s pain points and then finding creative solutions. I’m always tapping into my core strengths, which is understanding people’s needs.
Sturdivant has found that staying true to what she likes doing and what she does well has helped her maintain her position as director of product development for CCSF. Her job involves working with customers to understand their needs and then finding creative ways to solve them. She knows that there are many other things she could be doing but trusts herself enough not to give up what she does best and loves most.

Lesson #2: Surround yourself with people who will challenge you

Cathy Sturdivant is a leader in product development, who’s played an integral role at Pepsico for more than 20 years. As Director of Product Development, she ensures that PepsiCo’s portfolio includes beverages, food and snacks to match consumers’ lifestyles and preferences.
I sat down with Cathy to learn more about her journey, what she looks for in others, and what they both can do to improve as professionals. Here’s what I learned:
One quality Cathy has never been afraid of sharing is her willingness to take risks.

Lesson #3: Learn how to sell yourself

You are selling yourself, not your product. — Cathy Sturdivant. In this lesson, Cathy discusses how to sell yourself and what it takes to be a leader in the world of product development. She reminds us that you need to be confident when going into meetings with managers, people in charge of budgets, and other executives who can make or break your career as a product developer. If you don’t have confidence then they will see right through you, she says.

Lesson #4: Overcome fear and take action!

For me, starting a business is about overcoming fear and taking action. Fear of failing is really big for entrepreneurs. That’s how Cathy Sturdivant starts her discussion about how to be an entrepreneur. She shares the lessons she learned, Seven Lessons From Seven Years of Building Build With Pico: Lessons I Learned Along the Way to help new entrepreneurs overcome some of their fears and take that all important first step into entrepreneurship.

Lesson #5: Never stop learning

I never stop learning. I don’t know when the next curveball will come, so I am always trying to learn something new. Cathy Sturdivant is a leader in product development who has learned how to navigate through industry challenges with grace and determination. She has a great passion for what she does and spends her days making products that will make life easier for people. Cathy is also an avid learner, with her most recent endeavor being to learn how to code! It’s so fun, she says. I’m always looking for ways to challenge myself.

Lesson #6: Trust your instincts. They’re there for a reason.

I don’t have a lot of patience for people who talk about things they know nothing about. You’re either in the arena or on the sidelines, and I’m in the arena. Cathy Sturdivant is a leader in product development with over two decades of experience at Proctor & Gamble Company and leading brands such as Braun, Oral-B, Duracell and Gillette.
She learned early on to trust her instincts when it comes to developing products that consumers want and need. You really have to be able to listen well because consumers tell you what they want through their behaviors, not necessarily by telling you what they want. So if you don’t listen well enough you’re going to miss signals.

Lesson #7: Mistakes are opportunities!

In her career Cathy Sturdivant has made many mistakes and learned from each of them. For example, when she first started at Nike, she made the mistake of not reaching out to someone who had been there for 20 years. This person was someone that could have helped her learn about the company but because she didn’t reach out, she missed out on this opportunity and needed to look for other ways to grow within the company.
From this mistake, Cathy learned how important it is to work hard with everyone on your team and not just focus on your own tasks. She also learned how important it is to get feedback on your ideas so you can make improvements before presenting them to a client. She applied these lessons and eventually became a leader in product development at Nike where she developed some of their most popular sneakers such as the Air Jordan 1 and Air Max 95.

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