April 24, 2008

Kim Nelson ’88

Kim Nelson ’88 advises fellow executives to set realistic expectations.


If female executive were to seek a guru to help them deal with the stresses of work and family, Kim Nelson ’88 would be a top contender. “You just get very efficient about how to spend your emotional energy,” says Nelson, who is president of General Mills snacks division and a vice president of the company. “You learn to focus your energies on solving problems and zeroing in on the biggest opportunities.

By following her own wisdom, Nelson leads one of the company’s six major operating divisions while promoting the growth of all General Mills snack brands. She also remains committed to the Black Champions Network, an employee affinity group she helped to found at General Mills in the 1990s to provide development and support for African-American employees.

Nelson, who also took an 18-month sabbatical to travel, work in a homeless shelter and recharge, shares another key insight: “You have to be realistic about your expectations for yourself. The biggest stressor is when we build up all these expectations for ourselves—for how perfect everything has to be. Sometimes you just need to cut yourself some slack.”

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