2019 Top Women in Retail

Women Retail Leaders Share Career Challenges and Lessons Learned

By: Joe Keenan

This article originally appeared on Total Retail, sister brand of Women in Retail Leadership Circle.

Women in Retail Leadership Circle (WIRLC), sister brand of Total Retail, recently released its ninth annual list of the Top Women in Retail. This annual feature, a joint effort of Total Retail and WIRLC, shines a spotlight on the innovative female minds leading some of the top retail organizations and brands in the industry today. As part of the special feature, WIRLC conducted interviews with each of the 16 women on this year’s list. Among other questions, the honorees were asked, “What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career, and what did you learn from it?” Here’s a sampling of the answers we received:

“Running a declining business where I couldn’t control the environment. I had to partner with another company and build bridges with many team members to assist me in driving the business. It meant taking the time to educate them about my business as well as working together for success.” — Marla Ryan, CEO, Destination Maternity

“Managing the expectations of shareholders while continuing to strategically grow the business. The Street tends to measure performance on a quarterly basis, yet the business is focused on long-term goals. If I focus long term, we’re better positioned to build a healthy business and ultimately deliver shareholder value.” — Suzanne Miglucci, President and CEO, Charles & Colvard

“As a mom of three small children, one of my biggest challenges is the ongoing struggle to balance doing the right thing for them at the same time as pursuing my career and passion. At different points in my kids’ lives, it has meant forgoing the most logical opportunities to take ones with less impact on them. At other points it has meant asking my husband to take on more so I could do more at work. It’s never without tradeoffs (and sometimes tears), but I’ve learned (to try) to never regret my choices and to always remember how lucky I am to have those choices. And, of course, if something isn’t working, name it and address it, but don’t assume it can’t also get better with time.” — Katie Mullen, Chief Transformation Officer, Neiman Marcus

“As a QVC and now Qurate Retail team member for more than 20 years, I’ve made a number of transitions throughout my career. For me, I learned early on that being too focused on the next promotion or the next raise was actually counter to my true development. I discovered that lateral moves made sense for our integrated business strategy, as well as for my professional development. When it comes to navigating a career path, you have to be willing to take risks, not only into roles that are familiar, but also into those that aren’t. The more you’re able to experience, and the more leaders and team members with whom you interact, the more you get to learn! You can also build credibility and trust through your interactions and willingness to support others in their roles.” — Mary Campbell, Chief Merchandising Officer, Qurate Retail Group; Chief Commerce Officer, QVC US

To see WIRLC’s 2019 Top Women in Retail List, and gain more valuable insights like these from the honorees, download the report today.

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