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September 4, 2017

Mary Laschinger Talks Talent, Leaders And Atlanta In Latest Delta Air Lines Insights On Leadership

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During our most recent Delta Air Lines Insights on Leadership conversation, we sat down with the only woman CEO of an Atlanta-based Fortune 500 company, Mary Laschinger of Veritiv. Veritiv is a leading North American business-to-business distributor of packaging, facility solutions, print and publishing products and services, and a provider of logistics and supply chain management solutions. Mary spoke to a group of Atlanta leaders about Veritiv’s path to becoming a Fortune 500 company and why she chose Atlanta for its headquarters.

Veritiv was formed out of what some have called a “divorce, marriage and a baby, all in one.”

It all began in 2014, when xpedx split from International Paper to merge with Unisource, which was based just up the road in Norcross. The two companies were numbers one and two in their space and heated rivals. The result was Veritiv, which then made an IPO at the New York Stock Exchange – all of this taking place within the span of about 24 hours.

Mary previously served as International Paper senior vice president from 2007 to 2014 as well as multiple other leadership positions since joining the company in 1992. Prior to taking the helm of Veritiv, she was president of xpedx, and previous to that role, she led all of IPs business in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Russia.

Veritiv employs roughly 8,700 team members and had net sales of $8.3 billion in 2016.

  • “We brought the number one and number two competitors together in the industry. There have been challenges with that, of course, but what it has really done is taken two stepchildren companies and really given the people a mission and a purpose.”
  • “When I interviewed people, I said, ‘Coming to work at Veritiv is not for the weak of heart because everything we do is for the first time.’”
  • “I’m really proud of the people that we have been able to get to drive where we are today”

Mary chose Atlanta for Veritiv’s headquarters over Dallas and Cincinnati.

  • “We felt we could get the talent that we need – but that’s getting more and more difficult with all the companies coming in – supported by resources and education that exist in the region.”
  • “One of the big drawing cards for us was the airport – the ability to travel to our customers, employees and facilities was really important, so infrastructure here supported that travel.”
  • “It [Atlanta] was a place we could attract talent, even if it wasn’t here.”

Mary described Atlanta in three words: opportunities, embracing, globalization.

  • She sees our region globalizing as a place to operate and said we’re unique when it comes to “opportunities for companies and individuals, and being an embracing community.”

Mary is committed to the development of people as leaders.

  • “It’s good to be big and be the leader, but always be humble. Never be arrogant.”
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