Primary.com, which launched today, is working directly with manufacturers in an attempt to sell products at lower prices than traditional retail brands.
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During that time, Peterson was involved in developing contingency plans and looking at all the different scenarios that could take place. She learned how to think the impossible, she says. “We were dreaming up ideas that at first sounded unthinkable or undoable but which ended up resulting in a very bold plan of action that changed the course of Sears’ history in a very positive way.”
Seeing Sears as an American icon, Peterson says the company’s strong brand presence is what drew her to Sears in 1989 after spending several years at PepsiCo Inc. and Kraft Inc., both big brand and image companies. “To this day I can’t drink a Coke,” Peterson says. “Those companies really embedded in me the power of a great brand.”
Taking on the role of leading a business segment is a new challenge for Peterson, who always has focused on the finance side of things. She’s looking forward to working on all aspects of the online group’s efforts. “The person who runs an operation like this gets to consider all aspects of what makes a business tick: the marketing, the systems, the operations, the finance, the strategy,” she says. “It’s going to be a kick putting all of those pieces together to create wealth and to create something spectacular.” •
MargaretAnn Cross is an Allentown, Pa.-based business writer.
alice m. peterson
• Experience: October 1998-present: Vice president and general manager, Sears Online; Sears, Roebuck and Co., Hoffman Estates, Ill.
July 1993-October 1998: Vice president and treasurer; Sears, Roebuck and Co.
1992-July 1993: Managing director, corporate finance; Sears, Roebuck and Co.
1989-1992: Corporate director of finance; Sears, Roebuck and Co.
1988-1989: Assistant treasurer, Kraft Foods, Inc., Northfield, Ill.
1984-1989: Various finance positions, PepsiCo. Inc., Purchase, N.Y.
1981-1984: Various treasury positions, Harris Corp., Melbourne, Fla.
• Organizations: Board member, Fleming Companies Inc., Oklahoma City; board member and chairwoman of the finance committee, Ravinia Festival, Highland Park; member, the Economic Club of Chicago and the Chicago Network.
• Education: Master’s of business administration in finance, Vanderbilt University, Owen Graduate School of Management, Nashville, Tenn. Bachelor’s degree in liberal studies, University of Louisville, Louisville, Ky.