The Chef's Chief
Marla Gottschalk BS’84
Chief Executive Officer, The Pampered Chef
Where did you get your garlic press?
At a Pampered Chef cooking show, perhaps? With 60,000 independent consultants worldwide, the Pampered Chef has been supplying essential kitchen tools like garlic presses and mixing bowls to the masses since 1980. And for the past few years, a Kelley School graduate has been at the helm.
As chief executive officer, Marla C. Gottschalk, BS'84, leads the Pampered Chef's executive team, oversees long-range planning, and defines corporate strategies for the company. She joined the Pampered Chef, a Berkshire Hathaway company and the premier direct seller of high-quality kitchen tools, in December 2003.
Gottschalk, a Bloomington native, has had a long career in the food business. Before coming to the Pampered Chef, she worked at Kraft Foods, Inc., most recently as senior vice president, financial planning and investor relations. In this position, she led the global financial planning activities of the $30 billion business. She began her Kraft career in 1989 as a senior financial analyst and worked her way up the food chain, if you will. From 2000 to 2002, she served as executive vice president and general manager of Post Cereals, the third-largest cereal company in the United States.
Gottschalk's ambitions for the Pampered Chef are simple. “The company's tagline is to 'discover the chef in you.' My goal is to provide our customers with quality products, delicious recipes that are easy to make, and simple tips that enable them to put a 'wow' on the table, whether it's a quick family meal or holiday entertaining,” she says. A working mother herself, Gottschalk loves to cook for her family and uses many of the Pampered Chef recipes at home.
As a corporate executive for nearly 20 years, Gottschalk has gained some perspective on what Kelley has meant for her career. She has many vivid memories of I-Core—most notably the late nights and teamwork exercises—and she has found they ring true in the real world.
“My undergraduate degree in business from Indiana University has helped prepare me for a satisfying business career,” says Gottschalk. “My education has proven to be an extremely valuable asset. Especially valuable were group projects and the lessons I learned regarding teamwork. By working together, more ideas are generated and problems are often more creatively solved.”
- Is cooking a hobby of yours?
“I love to cook for my family. So my roles at the Pampered Chef and Kraft have tied into that love of food and cooking.”
- What's your favorite kitchen gadget or tool?
“One of my favorite new products is our cookbook 29 Minutes to Dinner: From Everyday to Gourmet. It is a fabulous resource for families like mine who want delicious everyday meals but don't have a lot of time to prepare them. I have tried every recipe in the book and my family has a lot of favorites.”
- What advice do you have for Kelley graduates just getting started in the business world?
“Find something you enjoy doing. I think you tend to be more successful when you like what you do.”