SIG Speaks to Kate Renwick-Espinosa

Kate Renwick-Espinosa headshot over the property of the Omni La Costa Resort hotel

Kate Renwick-Espinosa is the President of VSP Vision Care, a national not-for-profit vision company. At SIG's Fall Global Executive Summit, Kate will highlight how organizations can adopt a culture of fiscal fitness through impactful activities, engaging content pushed through a variety of communication channels, and a tighter alignment between leadership and different groups. Leveraging more than 27 years of optical and leadership experience, she’s energized by helping people see and feels fortunate to work for a company with similar “care and service” values. She’s accountable and committed to growing VSP membership and product and service offerings to meet diverse consumer needs and VSP’s client base.

Can you share a little more about your day-to-day role and responsibilities as the President of VSP Vision Care?

Helping people see is what motivates me every day. My primary focus is to help lead the direction and key efforts for the company that continue to grow and strengthen our VSP membership. This means we’re aligned and structured to be wherever the customer is making their vision care “purchase” and “care” decisions.  Our product and service offerings must meet diverse and personalized consumer needs as well as VSP’s client base both domestic and international. And, they must be straight-forward and easy to use!

I also work closely with our CEO, and entire leadership team, to ensure our growing company is connected and supporting our common goals and essentials as well as delivering a consistent and competitive marketplace presence. Together we ensure that when we all show up to work that we clearly understand where we’re trying to get to and how we make a difference. Collectively across our six lines of business, we’re delivering the kind of personalized eye care experience that creates members for life!

Your keynote at the SIG Global Executive Summit is “A Fiscally Fit Culture Can Spark Change, Innovation and Inclusion.” An audience of Procurement folks will undoubtedly be excited to learn how VSP Vision Care, the nation’s largest not-for-profit vision benefits and services company, achieved this goal. What was your role in this endeavor?

My role was only one of many! This was a partnership that started with Procurement and expanded to the rest of the business. We recognized that Procurement was on a good track with promoting better employee spending habits, but they weren’t sustainable. Procurement was well known for their traditional role with managing supplier costs and they were gaining slow traction with the employee savings program. Not the kind of traction that was making a difference across the business or helping elevate their value to the business. Finding ways to take the savings program that Procurement started and further seed it within our company culture was key and the start of our connected collaboration. 

Your keynote will also touch on building a tighter alignment between leadership and different groups. What advice do you have for overcoming organizational politics and building consensus among stakeholders?

With purpose, a company can create value that is far greater than the sum of its parts. Because VSP’s fiscally fit program goals are connected to our purpose we see high employee engagement, great results and natural expansion into other efforts.  We knew that growing a sustainable employee-level savings program would require time, change management and can feel very slow to start. A part of the change management that we faced was ensuring all employees understood the financial health of the company. Understanding the finances in a way that puts greater visibility and awareness on spending habits and decision-making was necessary to help deliver sustainable savings to ultimately fuel our mission. We’ve been able to develop programs like being fiscally fit that connects employees and teams across our company to deliver a healthier income statement, but that allows us to reinvest in things that further our passion to help people see.

What advice do you have for Procurement professionals when it comes to working with leadership – what does it take to be considered a trusted advisor to the business?

  • Gain agreement around the problem: For VSP, acknowledge that a short-term ad hoc spending and goals approach needed to shift to consistent spend with long-term goals.
  • Work together to set financial goals, targets and metrics. Be transparent with the financials. Everyone must be financially savvy.
  • Empower leadership to strengthen their budgets, cut costs and solicit employee savings opportunities.

What are the skills and attributes that professionals need to develop in order to be successful business leaders?

That’s a million-dollar question that doesn’t have a silver-bullet answer. I come to work each day with the mindset to be my best and to help others reach their goals. I personally want to continue to learn, listen and share. In my experience and through my learnings with expert leaders I believe that it starts with building a strong leadership team and framework: The right mix of talent, expertise and aligned passion all focused on the common goals and problems we’re collectively going to solve. 

Working for a vision care company, you must have an impressive collection of eye glasses.

We have a lot of fun at work admiring everyone’s amazing eyewear that reflects their personal style. We also know that many go without the eyewear that they need so we also actively donate by passing on our gently used glasses to people in need through our Eyes of Hope program.

To be a great leader you need to know great leaders. We invite you to learn from Kate at SIG's Fall Global Executive Summit. Her featured session, "How a Fiscally Fit Culture can Spark Change, Innovation and Inclusion," will be held on Wednesday, October 16.  Join the conversation, check out the agenda and register on our website.

Stacy Mendoza, Digital Marketing Manager

Stacy Mendoza is a Digital Marketing Manager with Sourcing Industry Group (SIG). Stacy began her career in market research as an editor for Hart Research Associates in Washington, D.C. Since 2014, she has worked in marketing and public relations, specializing in content creation, media relations and crisis communications. Stacy is a passionate volunteer who donates her time to help nonprofits develop marketing strategies and awareness campaigns. Stacy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from The Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. Follow her on Twitter and tweet at @SIG_Stacy.