With a career that has spanned GE Plastics, McKinsey, and Dell Technologies – and an MBA from Harvard Business School – Amanda Hodges now serves as Chief Marketing Officer at Republic Services. Republic is an environmental services company that puts customers and sustainability first, and for Amanda, the role is a culmination of her skills and passion to leave the world a better place. She also has genuine interest in what she does, which helps her succeed – “I am better at my job because it doesn’t feel like work; it’s also a hobby.” Current Role: Creating a More Sustainable World What is the primary mission/business of Republic Services? Our vision is partnering with customers to create a more sustainable world. Whatever our customer’s goals are – net zero emissions or reduction, recycling, or circularity – Republic Services is uniquely positioned to help achieve them. We don’t create waste, but we help people and companies take care of it in the best way possible. In your role as EVP/CMO for Republic Services, what are examples of some of your daily activities? What are you trying to accomplish overall? There are three main areas where I spend time – Customers, Digital, and Sustainability – to understand how they work together to drive business outcomes. For example, all our drivers have tablets in their trucks, and we use data to optimize their routes to reduce emissions and to enable our customers to locate trucks. What characteristics does someone need to be successful in a role like yours? Someone who has a customer mindset and is focused on business outcomes. Too often in companies, specialists within their function or industry can lose sight of how a customer experiences a product or service. Spending time with customers is critical for us to be able to deliver value to them. With a lot of competing priorities, we have to spend time and resources where we can make the most impact. Spending time with customers is critical for us to be able to deliver value to them. What is your favorite part of your job? Celebrating our team members is one of my favorite things about working here. Some of our drivers start their days at 3 AM, and they keep our neighborhoods clean and safe. We have 17,000 drivers – they are “unsung heroes.” What is most challenging? Data is our biggest opportunity and our biggest challenge. It helps us optimize the way we work, but data is all over the place, it’s in silos, and it requires working across organizations to create a shared vision of what is possible. Career Path: A Job that is Also a Hobby You joined Republic Services in 2020 after 15 years at Dell Technologies. What prompted you to take on a new role and company? I wanted to make the world a better place. The work Republic Services does every day directly impacts how our world will be for future generations. What made you decide to leave engineering (GE Plastics) and go into consulting (McKinsey) then marketing (Dell and Republic Services)? I like to learn, and I like a challenge. Each company I have been part of has taught me something different. I loved engineering, but to be a business leader, I needed to round out my skills, and McKinsey was an opportunity to work with a lot of different companies. That experience led me to Dell, where I went from operations and strategy to marketing execution. I never expected I’d end up where I am now. I started my career in a plastics plant, and today Republic Services is launching the first polymer center that will forward integrate the process for collecting recycled material and producing recycled content for consumer packaging. The work Republic Services does every day directly impacts how our world will be for future generations. In a competitive world, what has made you stand out and advance in your profession? My unique strengths are passion and purpose. Lots of people do a great job, but when I work on something I am passionate about – it’s extra magic. I like to talk to people about plastics, and I read about polymers and climate change on weekends. I am better at my job because it doesn’t feel like work; it’s also a hobby. When I worked in Detroit, I didn’t care about cars, and that was hard. I never would be able to develop the “extra” that people who loved cars had. I always ask people about their purpose – what their “why” is. My two “whys” are my family and my desire to leave the planet better than when I entered. There are tough days at work sometimes, but you hold on if you know your “why.” There are tough days at work sometimes, but you hold on if you know your "why." Is there anything you would do differently on your career journey? I would have asked more questions, especially when I started new jobs. I put tremendous pressure on myself to prove myself and do a great job. I probably would’ve learned more if I’d have been more open to asking for help and improving vs. proving. You have an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering, and your first job out of college was at GE Plastics. Does your background in engineering help you in your current role? Engineering is about problem solving and being comfortable with numbers – both are helpful frameworks to reach business outcomes and will serve you well in any role. Why did you decide to further your education and get an MBA at Harvard Business School? What did you gain from that experience? I walked away thinking all things were possible. Such a diversity of people and thoughts and experiences opened my eyes to the possibility of what could be done, especially coming from a home where I didn’t have a lot of exposure to the world. Personal Insights: Thirty Minutes Can Change Your Life Where did you grow up? Wilmington, Delaware Did anyone in your upbringing have an influence on your path – professional or personal – that was particularly impactful? My mom was a secretary at Dupont. One summer, she brought her boss, a chemical engineer, home for lunch. We spent 30 minutes together, and she told me, since I liked math and science, to consider an engineering degree. I never saw my mom’s boss again, but a 30- minute conversation can totally change someone’s life. Did you ever dream about a career at a young age other than marketing or engineering? I wanted to be a teacher, and I haven’t crossed that off yet. My dad was a gym teacher, and my mom was a secretary so those were the only things I was exposed to. Seeing something different opened my eyes to other opportunities. What was your very first job (where you had a W2)? What did you learn from it? In high school, I worked at “I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt.” As high school students, we wanted to close the yogurt shop early, and the owner said something that impacted me: “If a customer comes in and we’re closed, people won’t come back, and you won’t get a paycheck.” At Republic, we talk to employees about this, what we call the “ownership mindset” – how would you act if you owned the company? Is there anything on your “bucket list” you’d be willing to share? I am a non-bucket list person. If there’s something I want to do, I’ll just go do it. Right now I want to learn how to play pickleball. How do you spend your time when you are not working? I play backyard volleyball with my kids. I am secretly trying to switch them over from soccer to volleyball because Phoenix is hot, and volleyball is played inside and it’s air conditioned. I think they are on to me. Final Thoughts: Jump In, Ask for Help, Figure It Out What is about Forté’s mission that makes you want to support our efforts? I love how Forté helps women reimagine what they can achieve. Exposing women to all the things they can do in business creates more confidence and more possibilities. I’ve also been lucky to have people invest in me, and I want to pay that forward. Are there one or two important lessons in business that you always keep top-of-mind? Communication is important. People often think if they put their head down and do their work, they will get rewarded, but others can’t help you if they don’t know what you’re interested in. Make sure your work is visible and people know your career goals, or you may be under the radar. Make sure your work is visible and people know your career goals, or you may be under the radar. What advice do you have for a young woman just starting out in her career in business? You can do it. Someone recently told me she didn’t have the right qualifications for a role. I want all women to flip the narrative. Jump in, ask for help, figure it out. If you fail, remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and it’s a great learning experience.