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A Man's World No More

Kathy C. Sgro,
Chairwoman and Executive Vice President, Pay-Less Supermarkets

A leader in the business realm, a nurturing mother and wife and active community citizen — Katherine “Kathy” Calvo Sgro is the 2006 Businesswoman of the Year.

Businesswoman, wife, mother, role model — these are all positions with which Katherine “Kathy” Calvo Sgro is all too familiar. By day, she is the chairman of the board and executive vice president of Pay-Less Markets Inc., Guam’s leading grocery chain, managing the company’s overall functions, from finances to company goals. By night, family is her top priority. In between, she makes time for community service. Paul M. Calvo, president and chairman of Calvo’s Enterprises Inc. and Kathy’s father, says, “Growing up, Kathy has always been active, energetic and full of positive enthusiasm.” As the second oldest of seven children, Calvo says Kathy was a great help in keeping her younger brothers and sisters in check.

After graduating from the Academy of Our Lady of Guam in 1977, Sgro went on to pursue a bachelor's in commerce and marketing from Santa Clara University and a master's in financial planning from Golden Gate University. When she entered the working world, life wasn't always easy being a woman. “In my first professional job in Oregon, a young manager approached me during my first week and told me that operations management was a man's world,” Kathy says. This comment only motivated her to prove him otherwise.

Her husband, Peter R. Sgro, Jr., president and chairman of the board for International Group Inc., agrees. “As a businesswoman, I admire her tenacity, energy and never-give-up spirit. She always tried her hardest to prove to her bosses that she was qualified for the job they hired her for.”

Kathy Sgro returned back to Guam in 1987 and was the first female Calvo family member to take an active role in working for the company, which was definitely a male-dominated business, according to her husband. “I remember Kathy coming home from Pay-Less one day, saying a particular relative said, ‘You should be staying home with your children,’” Peter says. Kathy Sgro adds, “There was definitely some trepidation about me working full time and raising young children. But persistence pays off.” Peter agrees. “She has earned the respect of her colleagues at all levels of the organization. Kathy has been a trailblazer at Pay-Less. She climbed the ladder and overcame obstacles that others in business, both male and female, would not have been able to overcome. She is a tireless worker, not once ever taking advantage of the position she holds.”

When dealing with pressure, her colleague Curt E. Wyatt, senior advisor of Pay-Less Markets Inc., says, “This is what makes Kathy unique. No matter how big or how small, Kathy has the ability of getting through the most complicated situations and arriving at a result where all parties are happy. Pressure just adds to Kathy’s efficiency. She thrives whether she is under pressure or not; she gets the job done.”

Today, Kathy is in the middle of huge growth for Pay-Less. She says fiscal 2006 is turning out to be the company’s most successful year in terms of sales and investment into the company. By May 2006, Pay-Less will have invested more than $3 million into store renovation and acquisition of new state-of-the-art equipment for its Oka and Dededo stores, with the Agana store next on the list. Wyatt says, “Kathy has what it takes to be an outstanding leader. She is part of a great team that keeps Pay-Less a household name and moving forward into the future.”

Pay-Less Markets Inc. also aims to impact the quality of life on Guam by providing the option of healthy foods to combat the high incidences of diabetes and heart diseases on Guam. “I am aggressively promoting our Health Smart Department at the Micronesia Mall by inviting schools (GCC) and organizations (Get Healthy Guam) to conduct cooking demonstrations, sponsoring health-related events and speaking out publicly,” Kathy says. She’s also organized the annual Pay-Less Kick the Fat 5k and Fitness Fair, which mirrors the same objectives of encouraging a healthy lifestyle. This attitude also extends to her family. Her husband says, “When I open the ice box for a snack or reach for another serving at a meal, I can do without the semi-smile saying ‘You really don’t need that.’ Yes, Kathy wants us all to be healthy, including me.”

To further the company’s involvement with the community, Kathy spearheaded the newly organized Pay-Less Markets Community Foundation, which assists local, non-profit organizations in obtaining funding through federal and corporate grants. The organizations include Erica’s House of Hope, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Guam, Get Healthy Guam, Ayuda Foundation/Island Girl Power, Coalition Against Sexual Assault & Family Violence and KOLG radio station.

In the last year, she organized and chaired the first Guam Team in Training for Leukemia & Lymphoma, which raises funds through participation in endurance sports, and raised $28,000. She also took part in the Gift of Life Charity Auction, volunteered at the Gentle Refuge Pregnancy Crisis Center and Kamalen Karidat and directed the Sugar Plum Tree program.

Most people wouldn’t be able to keep up with such a schedule. “I’m always in a hurry — so many things to do and so little time. However, I’m really trying to slow down and pace myself.”

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