Getting to Know Federica Marchionni, CEO of Lands’ End and Women in Retail Leadership Summit Keynote Speaker

By: Melissa Campanelli

To help prepare those who have already signed up for the Women in Retail Leadership Summit (taking place in Miami Beach from April 20-22), and to entice others who haven’t yet registered, Inner Circle will be giving you a sneak peek into the thoughts and motivations of some of the featured speakers at this year’s event. Earlier this year we featured Shelley Broader, who last October was named president and CEO of Chico’s.

This week we feature Federica Marchionni, CEO of Lands’ End, who leads a dedicated team of employees representing catalog, retail and online operations in the United States, Europe and Japan. In her presentation at the WIRL Summit, Federica will discuss her career, which began in the technology sector working for Samsung, Phillips and Ericsson. Before moving from Italy to the United States, Federica was the chief of brand at Ferrari. As a global executive and recent president of Dolce & Gabbana USA Inc., Federica greatly contributed to the company’s worldwide success. Here’s an interview the Inner Circle conducted with Federica recently.

Inner Circle: What do you enjoy most about working in the retail industry?
Federica Marchionni: I enjoy many aspects of the retail industry as it’s changing at a rapid pace and offering new challenges. This industry allows me to be a strategist and leverage my ability to capture future trends and build business successes with a global reach. At Lands’ End, I’m building upon the strong foundation and rich heritage that was created by the company’s founder more than 50 years ago. I like to reference a quote from Darwin: “It’s not the most intelligent or strongest of the species that survives, it’s the species that’s most adaptable to change. The one that evolves.” My vision is to evolve Lands’ End into a meaningful global lifestyle brand through growth, profitability and adaptability.

IC: If you weren’t working in the retail industry, what do you think you would be doing?
FM: Overall, I’m a business person and I have experience working in many different industries. I spent the early part of my career in technology and I believe cutting-edge technology is extremely important. Being connected to the “next” or “the future” is my passion. Giving back is also very important to me and I always strive to lead with purpose by cooperating with philanthropic organizations.

IC: How would you describe your leadership style?
FM: I’m an analytic yet intuitive person, and am often considered a creative business leader. Values such as trust, fairness, respect, integrity, innovation and continuous learning are very important to me. I have a strong passion for success and excellence, and know we can achieve excellent results by working together as a team.

IC: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received, and who gave you the advice?
FM: Be a team player. My boss at Samsung used to say, “In the room we can have different opinions, we can argue and go crazy until we make a final decision. When you walk out the door, forget about your opinion. The winning opinion becomes yours forever.”

IC: Do you have any mentors in the retail industry?
FM: Many, and I thank them all. Though I never met Gary Comer, the founder of Lands’ End, I feel like he’s been a mentor to me since joining the company. We very much share the same principles and values. He always said if you take care of your people and you take care of your customer, the business takes care of itself, and I completely agree with that. His devotion to the customer is something that inspires me on a daily basis.

IC: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
FM: I love spending time with my son. We’re both passionate about traveling and learning about many things, places and cultures (he’s currently learning his third language). I also like to be outside whenever I can, wherever I am. I run, bike, ski and swim. I’m always listening to music.

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