Linda Hubbard is a big proponent of hard work and playing to one’s strengths. Hubbard is the COO at Carhartt, and she is the first female and non-family member to be named President of the workwear brand based in Dearborn, Michigan. She strives to uphold the company’s values, which are to be inspired by hardworking people, to respect the company’s rich heritage while walking bravely into the future, and to work with honesty and integrity.
On May 4, 2019, Hubbard will return to her alma mater as the Broad College of Business commencement speaker, where she will address the 1,215 graduating Spartans with emboldening words before they begin their own journey as Michigan State University alumni.
“Do not be afraid to make mistakes. Fear of mistakes can be paralyzing. It can prevent the generation of new ideas and halt progress, which is often worse than the mistake itself,” said Hubbard. “You must take chances and push yourself to try new things.”
Hubbard took chances in her own career and adapted to take on new roles outside of her scope. She is a reflection of Carhartt as much as Carhartt is a reflection of her. Carhartt has thrived for more than a century, which is a testament to its ability to grow and adapt outside of its original scope. Examples of Carhartt’s growth and adaptation include the launch of a women’s line for hardworking female consumers and an expansion into direct-to-consumer channels, including Carhartt.com and the brand’s company retail stores.
Hubbard earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the Broad College of Business. After graduating from Michigan State, she began her 20-year career at Plante Moran where she handled many accounts, including Carhartt’s. “It was a unique position for a woman at the time and coincided with the firm’s desire to be more inclusive of women. Leadership encouraged men to address their unconscious biases and start taking chances on high-potential candidates, thus began my long connection to Carhartt.”
In 2002, Mark Valade, Carhartt’s owner, CEO, and fourth-generation family member to run the company asked her to join Carhartt as its CFO. During her tenure as CFO, she continued to take on more responsibilities and became the company’s COO. In 2013, she became the company’s president in addition to its COO.
Hubbard is an active alumna and serves on the Eli Broad College of Business Advisory Board, lending her experience and guidance to her alma mater.
Hubbard will speak before a packed Breslin Center audience and address the future leaders of business with some final words of wisdom. “They may have finished formal test-taking, but they are not done being tested. The tests they face in the future will have significant impacts on them personally and professionally. These will most likely not be tests of their technical skills or business acumen, but rather tests of character.”