From time to time, the Inner Circle spotlights some of the new, fabulous Women in Retail Leadership Circle (WIRLC) members. In today’s issue, we’re excited to feature one of our new associate members, Kim Dixon, executive vice president and chief operating officer at FedEx Office. Here’s an interview Jennifer DiPasquale, co-founder of WIRLC, conducted with Kim to help us all get to know her a little better.
WIRLC: Have you always worked in the retail industry?
Kim Dixon: For the past six years I’ve been the COO at FedEx Office, which is the retail division of FedEx. We operate more than 1,800 retail stores, 18 print production plants and a network of 600 same-day delivery couriers. Before I joined FedEx Office, I spent more than 20 years in telecommunications. I worked at Sprint for most of that time, where I managed the consumer retail channels, including dealers, national retailers and 1,200 Sprint stores.
I started my career in marketing before moving into sales and field operations. I eventually worked my way into managing store and dealer channels, which involved negotiations with national retailers such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy.
It’s funny to think I actually first stepped into retail during high school, when I worked at the Gap. I thought that was the “end” of my retail career, but in fact I would return to it after college and build my career around it. I love retail. It’s exciting, ever-changing and there’s a scorecard every day that shows how you’re doing. Who could ask for anything more rewarding!
WIRLC: Who has influenced you the most in your career? In life?
KD: Of course I have to say my mom influenced me the most. I grew up in the 70s, and my mom was one of only a few working mothers at a time when most women stayed home. She was a realtor who eventually owned her own real estate business, and then went on to become a commercial real estate appraiser. She had no college degree, but was smart and hard working, and people liked working with her. She ended up with a great career that she truly enjoyed, and she helped pave the way for me and others as a role model for women in business.
Both of my parents have always been tremendous cheerleaders for me, encouraging me to achieve the most I can.
WIRLC: What are some of the retail trends you’re hearing about from your customers?
KD: People are usually surprised to find out that we’re at the cornerstone of so many trends in the retail marketplace. Our print, shipping and delivery networks all support retail in many interesting ways. For example, we have large national retail partners who use FedEx Office quick-turn promotional printing. With our 18 large commercial print plants, we can print and distribute last-minute point-of-purchase materials to all of their nationwide stores in about three days. So when retailers need to act fast, they often turn to us.
Our FedEx Office retail stores also see a lot of small retailers that use our stores for everything from printing materials to packing and shipping the merchandise they sell online.
We’re launching an interesting new program with eBay. Customers can drop off items to be sold via the eBay Valet program. Our team packs and ships the item, and the customer gets up to 70 percent of the sales price hassle free! We also offer same-day shipping (store to home) for a number of retailers through our courier delivery network.
We have a lot of engagement with retailers — big and small. It’s a fun environment that changes constantly.
WIRLC: If you could give one piece of advice you’ve learned the hard way, what would it be?
KD: Early in my career, I learned a pretty powerful lesson when a CEO asked for my opinion on something that was happening in another department. I shared my opinion, which he then used as “fact” and came down hard on the company’s vice president of marketing. Needless to say, the vice president of marketing took the opportunity to educate me on what I didn’t know, and berated me for giving an unfounded opinion to the CEO. The vice president of marketing was right. I should never have given my two cents on something I knew so little about, and I should have thought about the repercussions of sharing an uninformed opinion with the CEO.
WIRLC: Tell me a little about your personal life. How do you relax and have fun?
KD: I recently started painting, which I never thought I would do. I’ve been trying my hand at abstract art using acrylics. The outcome is similar to the artistry of the average five-year-old child! But it’s fun and keeps me feeling creative.
WIRLC: What’s your favorite movie?
KD: Probably “Casablanca.” There are so many great quotes in that movie!
WIRLC: What’s your motto?
KD: It’s pretty much the golden rule: Treat others the way you would like to be treated! I try my best to live by this rule, but of course I’m not perfect. I think it’s a good rule that belongs at the top of everyone’s list!