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The Shelby Report of the West • MARCH 2015


Ta nya D omi er

The Accidental CEO Left ‘Perfect Company’ for ‘Law of the Jungle’ Tanya Domier always aimed high, but never really set her sights on being a CEO. A U.S. Supreme Court justice, maybe. But CEO? No. As a student, she looked past law school, past practicing as a litigator to the place where she could make a difference and leave her mark. But first, she needed to work and save money for law school, so after being offered several opportunities following on-campus interviews at California State University at Chico, the political science major chose to work at Smucker’s. She didn’t just love working there. “I was in love with Smucker’s, the training programs at Smucker’s, the people at Smucker’s,” she says. “It was a perfect fit for me and I have so much respect for them and always did. They run a company that is vision- and values-based, and they don’t ever deviate from the vision and values. For me, that was very important.” Training at Smucker’s was intensive, delving into management, leadership and problem-solving with Kepner-Tregoe. Domier was impressed, but impressionable at the time as well. “I thought the whole world worked that way,” she says. She started out as a sales representative for Smucker’s and moved up to district sales manager covering a territory from San Diego to Santa Barbara. She paid her dues turning jars, making sure product was rotated and, more importantly, selling displays of juice and natural preserves. She

enjoyed the “psychology of getting people to buy and understanding through a sales territory what people wanted, what I needed to do to help them build their business,” she says. “It became very interesting and challenging for me.” Smucker’s offered her positions in Colorado and Chicago, but after four years with the company, she knew she had to make a change. She and her husband had decided early on that moving was a nonstarter for both of them. “Why did I leave Smucker’s, the company that I put up on a pedestal and thought was amazing?” she says. “Very simply, I had just gotten married. I have five brothers and sisters (Domier is first in the birth order). My husband (Dan) has five brothers and sisters. Nobody in our family has ever moved out of Southern California. My entire family, which is an immediate family of 53, lives within one hour of where I live.”

Dissatisfaction with the status quo a driver

Though she didn’t stay with Smucker’s long, she would carry the fundamentals afforded her there to the next company she chose to work for: Advantage Sales & Marketing. “Advantage was a very unsophisticated company at the time,” she says. “There were 50 people and $5 million in revenue. I like a more processdriven company than what Advantage was in 1991. It wasn’t a cultural fit for me. I had to make Advantage a cultural fit for me by making enough

of a difference and becoming a bigger part of it to have an influence on the culture.” When she went from, in her words, “a perfect company in a very idealistic world to the law of the jungle in the brokerage business,” she took her own moxie along as well. Domier was a Toastmaster and debater in college, and developed her modus operandi while there.

“I never grew up or even went through the business feeling like I needed to be number one in the organization.”

–Tanya Domier

“I was president of my sorority in college,” she says. “Trying to get 100 women to march in the same direction and align on what was important Please see page 50

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2015 Women Executive of the Year - Tanya Domier