Honoree Headshot

Sharon Price John

President & CEO
Build-A-Bear

Location: Overland, MO
Founded: 1997
Industry: Toy

Many people who are kids at heart dream of a career centered around M&M’s, Barbie, Nerf and Star Wars.

Sharon Price John has made this dream her reality.

“Life and successful careers are about evolution, reinvention, and transition,” John said. “To remain relevant is to remain intellectually curious, to continually be willing to learn about and explore what is driving a market, the economy and the hearts and minds of people and then be willing to see opportunities and imagine possibilities within that constantly changing construct and act on them.”

President and CEO, Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc., John earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. After graduating, got her first big break working for the advertising agency DDB/ Needham Worldwide in New York City. Just two years later, she was recruited by Backer, Spielvogel, Bates, and eventually became the account supervisor on the M&M/Mars business. Sharon would later go on to earn her MBA at Columbia University, after which she began her toy career at Mattel in an entry level position on the Barbie brand.

John spent five years working her way up to a vice president, eventually moving on to work for another toy company, Hasbro. After helping to revitalize brands like Nerf and Littlest Pet Shop, she rose to the level of SVP/general manager for the U.S. Toy and Global Playskool Divisions, Sharon was ready for her next challenge. She decided to explore beyond the toy industry when she was tapped to be the president of the specialty footwear retailer, the Stride Rite Children’s Group (SRCG). She returned profitability with her expertise.

In 2013, John caught the attention of Build-A-Bear Workshop, being recruited to take the helm from the legendary founder, Maxine Clark. Faced with the challenge of recovering the company still affected by the Great Recession, she shifted from traditional retail to ecommerce. Since then, John has served as the president and CEO of Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc., and in her tenure as CEO, she revitalized the beloved brand, bringing profitability back to the publicly traded company (NYSE: BBW) and diversified the company by embracing the digital economy to create a springboard for the brands future.

She said that creating and communicating a vision and mission for the company that inspires the organization beyond general objectives is imperative.

“Embrace, encourage and reward the passionate pursuit of the vision and the use of it as a filter for the creation of a positive and strong culture,” she said.

Always in touch with her team, John stresses that learning to listen and showing respect are key.

“Learn to listen. Respect the opinions of the people around you as individuals first, and then as experts in their respective field,” she said. “If you do not believe they are worth listening to or cannot add value to the conversation, then why do you have them on your team?”

Today, Build-A-Bear has exponentially evolved and is poised to be a part of the lives of kids, and kids at heart, for years to come.

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Honoree fun fact

Sharon holds a US Patent.

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