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  Name:   Amy S. Hilliard
Month: February 2003
Schools: Harvard University MBA
Organization: The ComfortCake Company
Title: Founder, President & CEO

Amy S. Hilliard is the founder, president and CEO of The ComfortCake Company LLC, developers of gourmet pound cakes that are distributed nationwide. People across the country have clamored for her prized Southern-style pound cake for years. After having successfully launched products for major corporations, Ms. Hilliard decided to try it once for herself and her family. In January 2001, Amy Hilliard and her team started from "scratch" and stepped into the legacy of her grandfather, an executive chef, to launch the ComfortCake brand. ComfortCake's first customer was United Airlines, who ordered 500,000 slices. Other customers include the Chicago Public Schools, Jewel Stores, Cub Foods, Home Shopping Network, Sysco, Nordstrom's and The University of Chicago. ComfortCake is also available directly on the company's e-commerce website, www.comfortcake.com. Additionally, Ms. Hilliard is president of The Hilliard Group, LLC (THG), a six-year old strategic marketing consulting and product development firm headquartered in Chicago. The Hilliard Group's client list has included IBM, American Express, HBO, Hallmark, Texaco, Chase Manhattan Bank, PepsiCo, Ford, Northwest Airlines, The Gap, Kraft Foods, and Fortune magazine, among others. Ms. Hilliard speaks worldwide on marketing and entrepreneurship, and is currently writing a book called Bottom Line Faith: Finding the Spirit to Succeed in Business.

From 1998-2000, Ms. Hilliard took a leave from her entrepreneurial roots and was senior vice president of marketing for Soft Sheen Products, a division of L'Oreal USA. In this capacity, Ms. Hilliard directed the marketing activities of Soft Sheen, a leader in ethnic hair care. Ms. Hilliard managed all new product development, marketing strategy, advertising, promotion and public relations for the company. Under her direction, Soft Sheen launched the innovative Breakthruproduct line that was cited as "one of the most creative and cohesive global launches ever" by the Chairman/CEO of L'Oreal Paris. Ms. Hilliard created the name, positioning and distinctive orange packaging direction of this multi-million dollar line.

In addition to L'Oreal, Ms. Hilliard has held executive marketing positions at major corporations including Pillsbury, where she created the target marketing function and the first television commercials targeted to ethnic consumers featuring the Pillsbury Doughboy. A marketing executive at The Gillette Company for ten years, she developed the company's $100 million dollar White Rain Shampoo brand. Her work on this brand was published as a case study for Duke University's Fuqua School of Business. Additionally, while at Gillette, she was on the team that acquired a $50 million dollar health and beauty aids company. Ms. Hilliard started her professional career as a buyer for Bloomingdale's.

Prior to launching THG in 1995, she was the senior vice president of integrated marketing at Burrell Communications Group, a leading marketing communications firm in Chicago. Her work there involved clients including Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Hasbro and The Prudential.

Ms. Hilliard sits of the Ethnic Advisory Board of PepsiCo, along with Steve Reinemund - CEO, Earl Graves, Sr. of Black Enterprise and Johnnie Cochran among others. She is also a member of the Chicago Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of the Specialty Food Trade where she was appointed to the inaugural Diversity Committee. Formerly an adjunct professor at DePaul University's business school, Ms. Hilliard has lectured at leading universities including Harvard, The University of Chicago, Northwestern, Duke and UCLA. She has consulted internationally in London and in South Africa, where she presented business development opportunities to President Mandela's cabinet. Her work has been profiled in The Wall Street Journal, Ad Age, Business Week, Working Woman, Entrepreneur Magazine, Essence, Black Enterprise, and Ebony among others.

Ms. Hilliard graduated with honors from both Howard University and the Harvard Business School, and she is the proud single mother of two active teenagers.

 

 

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