Winner: Dr. Monica Oberkofler, Director of Strategic Planning and Communications, Social Responsibility, Gap, Inc.
Dr. Monica Oberkofler is an architect in every sense of the word--except, of course, that she doesn't actually design buildings. Rather, she designs the communications
strategies behind some of Gap Inc.'s most important literature: its Social Responsibility Reports.
As the lead strategist, writer and editor of the 2005-2006 report, the Oxford-educated Oberkofler put her writing skills to work, providing a comprehensive disclosure while
balancing analytical discussion with emotional appeal.
"From a substantive perspective, I've learned that the ability to comprehend, analyze and synthesize complex issues--and then explain them in 'plain English'--has been
critical to my career," she says. "In this age of information overload, successful communicators must now more than ever be able to understand complicated and voluminous
amounts of information, and translate it into clean, precise language that everyone can understand and take action, accordingly."
No Falling Through the Gap
Take action she does, in more than just Social Responsibility reporting. She is the key liaison between her department and the marketing team--a commendable accomplishment
in an environment where many organizations still struggle to bridge that gap. This partnership has enabled her to become a consultant for Gap's (PRODUCT) RED marketing strategy,
an initiative that contributes financial support to help women and children affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa.
Oberkofler meticulously fleshes out context to promote innovative thinking and decision-making. Her leadership of cross-functional internal teams has been the catalyst for
developing forward-thinking social responsibility practices; with this as her primary interest, she always weighs business needs against the company's CSR commitments.
"CSR is here to stay," Oberkofler says. "Long-term business success is simply no longer possible without a corresponding focus on the people and the planet. Savvy executives
are starting to recognize that a well-integrated CSR focus is actually good for their companies. We believe that we're only just beginning to realize its potential."