Business Life

How Godiva’s Chocolate Chief Was Molded. An article written by Francesca Fontana, WSJ, giving us valuable insight how Annie succeded in business.


Now working for years in Godiva with Annie and been through a major transformation in the business (5X greater Godiva). Annie Young-Scrivner relies on former life experience with CEOs of PepsiCo Inc., Target Corp., Burberry Group PLC and Home Depot Inc. to guide her leadership of the New York chocolate maker; “It gets lonely when you’re the CEO sometimes.”

Annie Young-Scrivner didn’t speak any English when she moved with her family to Seattle from Taiwan at age 7, so she spent much of her time watching and listening to others. That experience helped spark a lifelong interest in consumer behavior for Ms. Young-Scrivner, 51, now CEO of Godiva.

After college, she spent 20 years at PepsiCo Inc. She returned to her hometown of Seattle in 2009, becoming chief marketing officer for Starbucks. She says advice she got at Starbucks from board director Craig Weatherup continues to guide the way she leads.

It sounds so simple, but he said, ‘Don’t assume you understand consumer, but walk in their shoes and really listen.’” Ms. Young-Scrivner says. She began doing “listening tours,” meeting with small groups of employees at different levels of the organization and asking for their insight. Now based in New York, she has continued the practice at Godiva.

Here are four more of her most trusted advisers:

Indra Nooyi – Former chief executive, PepsiCo Inc.

When she left PepsiCo, Ms. Young-Scrivner says the hardest person to leave was Ms. Nooyi. “She challenges me, she nurtures me, and she expects great things,” says Annie. The two have kept in touch since Ms. Young-Scrivner’s departure, including spending time at get-togethers that Ms. Nooyi organizes for former female PepsiCo executives.

“There are very few Asian female executives, and she is someone that you see and you say, ‘Wow, maybe that’s a possibility for me,’” says Annie.

Frank Blake – Former Chief executive, Home Depot Inc.

Ms. Young-Scrivner met Mr. Blake in 2015 when he joined her on the Macy’s Inc. Board of directors after retiring as head of Home Depot. She had been inspired by his turnaround of the home-improvement chain during his tenure.

“It’s a great road map on really understanding the consumer, making sure that you treat employees and the customers right, and getting back to the basics,” she says. When she was looking for feedback on Godiva’s new cafe concept last year, Mr. Blake spent several hours walking with her through the cafe as a consumer and offering ideas.

Rose Marie Bravo – Former chief executive, Burberry Group PLC

Ms. Bravo had been on the Godiva board of directors before Ms. Young-Scrivner took over as CEO in 2017. “I had a conference call with her via FaceTime and we connected right away,” she says. Ms. Bravo invited her to interview for the Tiffany & Co. board, which she later joined. During the pandemic, Ms. Bravo has reached out to Ms. Young-Scrivner to check in and offer her support. “She’s just such a thoughtful person,” Ms. Young-Scrivner says, and she has welcomed their conversations. “It gets lonely when you’re the CEO sometimes.”

Brian Cornell – Chief Executive, Target Corp.

Ms. Young-Scrivner has admired Mr. Cornell since his time at PepsiCo, where he led the global foods division. Now CEO of Target, he is also chairman of the board at Yum! Brands Inc., a board Ms. Young Scrivner joined earlier this year. She praised big moves that Mr. Cornell has made at Target, including shutting down the company’s Canadian subsidiary in 2015 and the recent announcement that Target would raise its starting wage to $15 an hour for its U.S. workers. “He is not a follower”, she says. “He sees what needs to be done, and he makes some moves.”

Annie Young-Scrivner

Education: Bachelor’s Degree in marketing, University of Washington; M.B.A., University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management

Family: Husband Scott Scrivner; Children: Sebastian and Nicolette.

Favorite Book: “Outliers: The Story of Success”by Malcolm Gladwell

Frankly, I liked the fact that such a short interview gave such good advice altogether. Together with Annie, we drew a roadmap in Godiva and she is successfully implementing it. It is very useful to get acquainted with the business people who shaped her success and their influence on Annie, but she does not exactly copy all these recommendations and exemplary behaviors as they are. She adapts them to her own leadership style and performs. I think that is the reason for her success. A good manager should be open to listening, to receiving advice, to learn from exemplary behavior, but s/he should adapt all of these to her/his leadership style. Then success is inevitable, as in the case of Annie Young-Scrivner.

I have been working with Annie for a long time. She not only manages our business successfully, but also diversifies the business in every aspect and creates value. And all, she takes initiative in the development of global female leaders initiative on board Yildiz Holding. I both support and appreciate her. Thanks Annie 😉.

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