The corporate climb: Moving up, around for UPS

Jill Schubert wanted to make sure that I understood something very well -- at least intellectually, if I couldn't relate to it emotionally. The fact that Schubert, now president of UPS' Chesapeake District, has moved at least seven times in her 32-year UPS career should not be viewed as a hardship -- even the period when she moved five times in five years. ("When I was moving every 10 months, I didn’t even have time to get a dentist appointment," she said.)

"Every move I’ve made has been made a growth experience," she said, during our Leadership Agenda interview, published in Monday's Philadelphia Inquirer. "I always look at it as another adventure, like going on a field trip. I have no regrets or hesitation about any place I’ve ever been."

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Jill Schubert

Schubert came to Philadelphia, the headquarters for the district which stretches from West Virginia to New Jersey and Delaware,  in February, after, for her, a relatively long five-year stint in Minneapolis. There she headed a region that included the Dakotas, Wisconsin and Nebraska. Her transfer came after she told her bosses that she was getting restless.

Because I've lived in Philadelphia for so long, I'm fascinated by people who move. How do they make friends? How do they adjust? How do they compare Philadelphia with other places?

People who move for business can sometimes count on co-workers to help them set up a new network of friends. But it is different for the boss, who really can't get too close to underlings. I asked Schubert how she manages.

First of all, she talked about her close relationship with her mother, sisters and many others she keeps in touch with by phone.

"I like to think of myself as a people person at work," she said. "I’m not a president who likes to sit behind the desk. Because I’m so much on the go during the week and engaged with customers and employees and building facilities and traveling, I really like my down time on the weekends. I really do not hesitate to go to a movie by myself. I like to read fiction so I can escape. I started running two years ago and I like to go for a two or three mile run, if I can get it in, a couple of times a week. I like the escape of it."

Schubert doesn't know what the future holds.

"Could this be my last move? Certainly," she said. Schubert is 51, and UPS has a mandatory retirement age of 55. She'll have 37 years on the job by then, since she started when she was 18. But, she said, a move isn't out of the question. "If the call comes, I'm ready."

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