Ann Fudge


Ann Fudge is the former chairman and CEO of Young & Rubicam Brands, a global network of marketing communications companies. Prior to that, Fudge served as president of the Beverages, Desserts, and Post Division, a $5 billion unit of Kraft Foods. Before joining General Foods, she spent nine years at General Mills.

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What impact did HBS have on your life and the life of others?

My life path took shape early, as I married my soul mate in college and started our family while we were still students. Harvard Business School was a step along the path of taking care of our family and pursuing an interesting, challenging, and satisfying career. As a young black woman, there was never a question of “leaning in” as I grew up in a family where my mom leaned in every day in partnership with my dad and our relatives. I was expected to do my job—taking care of business in school.

When my husband left his job in Connecticut, we moved to Boston with more questions than answers. Our sons were 11 months and 4 years old when I enrolled at HBS. But one thing we knew for sure...I would graduate in two years with an MBA from Harvard. We’d figure out the rest along the way!

What did I learn? I learned that anything is possible if you commit yourself. I was a wife and a mom...a woman who wanted to do her best and learned that I could compete with the best at HBS. Like my community of family and friends growing up in D.C., I had a community of brothers and sisters in AASU who supported each other. We all had the same compete and to do our best; to navigate the waves at HBS (and there were many!) and to make it. I learned that there is no one right answer...that success comes from knowing yourself, creating a plan, and executing it. I learned that success is definitely not about money. Success is about nurturing relationships with family and friends; being married to your soul mate for 42 years; the joys of grandchildren; doing work that challenges and excites you; and pushing yourself to limits that enable you to uncover strengths you didn’t even know you had.

My HBS experience gave me the time to discover my capabilities and to determine how best to share them with the world. Now, 35 years later, my life path continues to open up in new, challenging, and unexpected ways. There is never one right answer, never one right path. You’ve got to create your own path, walk it confidently, and, most importantly, bring others along with you.