The first thing Heidi Chobar True ’95 wants understood is that “it’s not about me.” The international business and French graduate insists that her personal and professional successes to date—like joining Microsoft last year—are owed to her Central education and the ethics she learned from mentors like retired business management professor Jann Freed ’77.
“Jann Freed changed my life,” True says. “She encouraged me to think about business in new ways and
to customize my education to meet my goals. She also encouraged me to pursue education to achieve personal enrichment.”
“Lou Stark (former vice-president for student life) was also pivotal in my Central experience. He taught
me to look at the balance between my professional goals and who I am. That has really stuck with me.”
True, a senior global manager at Microsoft in Redmond, Wash., has risen quickly in the highly
competitive consumer packaged goods field of channel incentives and discounts. In corporate-speak, that means helping companies analyze performance, benchmark competition, measure return on investment, develop online tools, and strategically manage incentives. In lay terms, that means motivating consumers to buy more products with Sunday paper coupons, QR codes and point-of-purchase e-discounts.
“My career path is not ‘where am I going?’ but ‘where am I growing?” True explains philosophically. “I have been blessed. I have had three jobs since graduation and a very enriching career. I think in terms of ‘what am I giving?’ and ‘what am I getting?’ It’s a reality check to see from a personal growth perspective what you give to a business will get you in the long run.”
In her 20-year career, True has partnered with household name brands such as PepsiCo, Kraft, Tyson, Kellogg’s, MillerCoors, Nestlé, Mars and L’Oreal. A year ago, she added Microsoft to that brand portfolio, where she now oversees global operations in trade promotion management.
When speaking of households, True repeats again and again that her work/life balance is only possible because of her Central best friend and husband, Kevin True ’95. Their family lives in Sammamish, Wash.
“Kevin is my life partner who holds my hand through it all and helps me to see that the world can be whatever you want it to be. I focus and work hard because of my husband, my center. Nothing else matters.”
Unless of course, it’s the Trues’ three young sons. “We didn’t know there were twins in our family until we ‘tried this kid thing,’” True tells with a laugh, describing their 5-year-old twins and 1-year-old toddler.
“I feel 100 percent supported in work/life at Microsoft. For me, it’s a balance of all the right things for the right reasons. If you do the right thing, it will come full circle. Central teaches you that.”
What frustrates True most about the business world is that the “easiest way to succeed is to step over your neighbor. I stood out by not doing that, by focusing on uncompromisingly ‘doing the right thing.’”
The Trues intend to pass those Central-learned ethics along to the next generation. “In the next 20 years, I want my family to live abroad and to experience being a minority, to see the world is bigger than them, bigger than this moment. Wherever the Lord takes us, out of our comfort zone, I want them to embrace that experience and to live the plan.”
“My Central friendships and relationships have shaped who I am. It embarrasses me to share all of this but I am grateful for every experience and all of the ups and downs. I do this for love of Central and for others who might be making choices. Without Central, I wouldn’t have Kevin who is my life; Kyle, 5, who is my laughter; Korey, 5, who is my joy; and Brady, 1, who gives me hope. For every success I’ve had, I have Central to thank. You are encouraged to follow your dreams there, and you can.”