Getting to Know Shelley Broader, Chico’s New CEO and President

By: Joe Keenan

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. First up is Shelley Broader, who last October was named president and CEO of Chico’s.

Shelley will be giving the opening keynote to kick off the Summit, and will address her journey from financial services executive to CEO of Chico’s, which included stints as the president and CEO of Wal-Mart’s EMEA region; president and CEO of Wal-Mart Canada; senior vice president of Sam’s Club; and president and chief operating officer of Michaels. She will discuss why she switched industries, including the lessons she’s learned along the way.

This interview with Shelley originally appeared in Total Retail’s Winter 2016 issue and, more specifically, its cover story, Top Women in Retail. Women in Retail Leadership Circle is the sister brand of Total Retail.

Inner Circle: What do you enjoy most about working in the retail industry?
Shelley Broader: There are so many aspects of the retail industry that I love and all of them are about reaching people. What I’ve most enjoyed in my 25-plus years in retail — both in stores and within the corporate environment — is the incredible opportunity to deliver memorable experiences and products that excite the consumer in-store and digitally. We’re in one of the most thrilling times for retail. New markets, new systems and new delivery channels are fueling a deeper understanding of the customer and helping us deliver better experiences. The interaction with associates and the amount of untapped talent and strategic thinking that exists in the field has always been a source of new ideas and inspiration for me.

IC: If you weren’t working in the retail industry, what do you think you’d be doing?
SB: I started my career in finance, working in corporate development where I helped bring companies public. If I hadn’t gone to work for some of the retail clients I was covering, I would probably still be in banking focusing on mergers and acquisitions. I love to visualize the strategic fit between companies.

IC: How would you describe your leadership style?
SB: Straightforward, upbeat and curious. I truly enjoy working waist-deep with a team of people who bring their individual strengths and opinions to the table. I get energized working with others to get great things done while having a great time doing so. I taught, learned, grew and celebrated with many colleagues throughout my career. I also bill myself as a coordinator of experts. I surround myself with talented people and make sure they function like a cabinet rather than a House of Representatives. The executive committee isn’t just there to represent their individual areas of the business; they’re there to help me run a business and increase stakeholder value.

IC: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received, and who gave you the advice?
SB: I’ve learned from some incredible people over the years. Some of the most pertinent advice resonated with me at the particular time it was given, and there’s advice that resonates now. In leadership, I’ve learned that it’s vital to understand your own strengths and areas of opportunity, and then build a team to round out the skill set that a company needs. On a personal note, my mother would often say “there’s always time for kindness.” Even though we work in a competitive, fast-paced environment, I firmly believe that there’s always time for kindness.

IC: Do you have any mentors in the retail industry?
SB: I’ve been lucky to work for — and with — so many brilliant and talented people. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from coaches and peers, and also from people who worked for me, people who taught me the nuts and bolts of the business. And I’ve worked with people whose style I wouldn’t want to emulate. They’ve provided takeaways on what not to do.

IC: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
SB: My most important life roles are crystal clear: I’m a wife and mom first. I’m also a sister, community volunteer and loyal friend. I love a great night getting dressed up and getting out on the town, and I also love hanging out in jeans with my husband and kids over breakfast and some conversation. I love to cook. I’ve been known to make a whole weekend out of finding just the right ingredients for some incredibly complicated recipe to master from scratch.

To hear more from Shelley and retail experts like her, register for the Women in Retail Leadership Summit today!

One response to “Getting to Know Shelley Broader, Chico’s New CEO and President”

  1. Sally Osborn says:

    I live in Sarasota Fl. I am in my late 60’s. What has happened to your Traveler’s line? It is sooo small, no new colors. I notice a lot of women walking in and walking out without purchasing anything. Your below the waist pants aren’t for middle aged women. Bring back the waistline that comes to the waist! I am young looking, love clothes, and in pretty good shape. I have been so disappointed in your pants, and the Traveler’s line and talking with a sales person about it does as much good as talking to the wall. I hope you will look at your sales and demographics in Sarasota. Thank you for listening and hopefully some changes will be made.

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