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Alumna Erica Buxton Finds Her Real ‘Toy Story’
December 12, 2012
By Steve Kaelble
Always Looking Ahead: Erica (Snyder) Buxton, a 2002
engineering alumna, is director of corporate strategic
Mattel after earning a MBA from Harvard Business
Above, Buxton (2nd from left) and team at Mattel.
"Working in a toy company as a mom is a lot of fun," says Erica
(Snyder) Buxton, who serves as director of corporate strategic
planning at Mattel. But working in toys is a serious business, as
the 2002 chemical engineering
graduate has found out while helping the toy giant meet challenges
in a competitive marketplace.
This is not exactly where she originally pictured herself when
attending Rose-Hulman. She figured she would settle into the
healthcare business as a development engineer. But after about
three years on the job, "I was getting a little lonely in the lab
and was interested in the overall company and how decisions were
So, Buxton and her husband, Rob, a 2001 mechanical
engineering alumnus, decided to attend Harvard
Business School's MBA program. "We sold our house, sold our car,
quit our jobs, and moved," she reflects.
Then, with MBAs in hand, the couple landed consulting jobs in
Los Angeles. "I got interested in the consumer space," she says.
That led to her job at Mattel. "What's more fun than working with
Buxton oversees the toy giant's annual strategic planning
process, working with key executives to create a strategic plan. "I
work with leadership to figure out how we will continue to drive
shareholder value for the company," she says. "You have a lot of
people who want money for different things. We have to figure out
how to fund investments and prioritize them."
The latest strategic plan was presented to the Mattel Board of
Directors in September, and now leaders are operationalizing the
plan. Buxton helps to oversee progress throughout the year, but
she's already thinking about elements of next year's strategic
plan. Even as the company moves into the 2012 holiday season with
the latest Hot Wheels variations and a new high-tech Barbie doll,
Mattel already has top-secret showrooms previewing next year's hot
Closer to home, Buxton is making plans for family growth. She
has one child approaching age 2, and a second due next spring.
"That keeps us busy."