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Tracey Johnson is the vice president, group brand director for Brown-Forman, Woodford Reserve.

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2021 Most Admired Woman — Corporate

Vice President, Group Brand Director, Brown-Forman, Woodford Reserve
Family: Husband Stephan and son Maxwell
Neighborhood: East Louisville

Most people who like Woodford Reserve know about the taste. Maybe they know a little bit about its history. Tracey Johnson knows these things and so much more about Woodford Reserve products, including how they are marketed and priced, how its products sell in different states, and what new products may be launched in the next several years. She loves working on an interesting, flavorful brand with high-performing colleagues who challenge her.

How do you help or mentor colleagues?

I like working with folks on their development and what they want to do next in the company. Sometimes it’s things on Woodford Reserve or it could be on another brand. I’ve worked on a certain assignment and wanted to do something else. It’s great when someone invests their time trying to help you.

What are the challenges of your position?

Thinking long-term. After you have a successful year, how do you continue that growth? How do you do better? We hit this milestone; how are we going to hit the next one?

What makes a strong and successful leader?

To be a big thinker. In order to lead you have to have unrealistic expectations sometimes. A strong leader has to have concern for their team members, their successes and development because that is the only way the team is going to be successful, and they are going to make you shine as a leader.

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What are some things you’ve learned through your adult life?

I know I have a tendency to put off decisions because I want to have all the information and make the right decision. I’ve learned that is impossible. You never have all the information. You just have to be uncomfortable with decisions. Often it’s better to do something quickly than procrastinate because then you don’t have time to execute.

What professional experience have you had that young women entering the workforce could learn from?

I work really hard at things I like to do, and I don’t work hard at things I don’t like. That’s helped me choose jobs and industries. At one point, I worked in an industry, and I didn’t enjoy it a lot. I didn’t stay there long. That was a good decision; after I got there, I thought that maybe I’d made a mistake so I didn’t waste a lot of time.

What is something you can’t get the knack of?

Twitter. I’ve never really tried to learn the mechanics of it.

What is the secret for making an at-home Woodford Reserve Old-Fashioned?

Demerara sugar. I was at a tasting with Elizabeth McCall, who is our assistant master distiller, and she suggested it.

What are your pet peeves?

Social media or the fact that people are so negative and divisive. That’s something that’s giving me fits.

What is a regret you have?

In college, I was taking Spanish. I could read and write in Spanish, but the one thing I couldn’t do was speak in Spanish. They say you have to live in another country to do that. A girlfriend and I had the opportunity to go to Spain for a semester. We decided not to go. I could have become bilingual just by having that experience for a semester.

Are you a planner or spontaneous?

I’m a planner. I have to have a list, but I am a loose planner. I allow for change at the last minute because a lot of times you get that last-minute inspiration.

What has been a silver lining of the pandemic?

More time with my family has been a silver lining. I’ve learned to be a lot more flexible. I’ve learned to manage my time differently. The house has gotten a lot more organized.

Who are your favorite musical artists and why?

Prince, always, because he’s got so many different sounds and songs. It also reminds me of my teenage years. The other one is Frank Sinatra. My husband and I enjoy listening to him when we’re driving. Especially if we’re going to an event (when we used to go to events). His songs are nice to soothe your mood on your way to an event.

P.S. Purchase your tickets for the revamped Most Admired Woman event, being held at The Gillespie. Be a part of history as former Today’s Woman owners Cathy Zion and Anita Oldham pass the baton to new owner Tawana Bain. You won’t want to miss this night of sisterhood!

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