Women changing the retail world

Press enter to search
Close search
Open Menu

Women changing the retail world

By Gina Acosta - 06/19/2018

When it comes to gender diversity, the retail industry is in a better place than it was a decade ago, but clearly not where it wants to be positioned for the coming years. In addition, landmark research from the Network of Executive Women (NEW), Mercer and Accenture shows more action is needed or the next decade could see the industry regress substantially.

While opportunities to preserve hard won gains and further enhance gender diversity remain, there is no denying a select group of women who occupy positions of tremendous responsibility are leading with distinction and oftentimes outperforming their male counterparts. At Retail Leader, we wanted to highlight these special individuals and the impact they are having on their organizations and the industry at large.

To do so, we looked across the industry, consulted with colleagues at our parent company EnsembleIQ and reached out to industry partners and organizations. The goal was to identify women who met some or all of the following criteria:

  • Displays leadership fundamental to the success of the organization and without which shareholder value will languish.
  • Impacts organizational performance and industry dynamics in ways that are not always readily apparent.
  • Faces unique challenges and company specific opportunities to transform business results.
  • Is poised to have a lasting effect on the retail industry and further impact progress on gender diversity.

Beyond this basic and admittedly subjective criteria we segmented the featured executives into the following areas: leadership, international, supply chain/operations, human capital, finance, information technology, e-commerce/digital, social responsibility and merchandising and marketing. The intent was not to create some sort of definitive ranking of the industry’s most powerful women, but to instead feature those who rightfully belong among the select group of female executives who are indeed changing the retail world. They are doing so by serving as role models for future leaders while addressing complex business challenges and thorny issues for their organizations.

 

 

CRAFTING A DIGITAL FUTURE

Jill Soltau, President and CEO, Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores

There is no retailer more challenging operationally than Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores, a chain of more than 865 stores in 49 states with a vast assortment of low-turning items. Soltau joined Jo-Ann as CEO in 2015 and has been driving major growth and transformation ever since. Under her leadership, the company has undergone a revitalization of branding and product assortment, expanded digital and omnichannel capabilities, forged partnerships with Girl Scouts of the USA and 4-H Council, and recently launched a new program called Joann+. The multifaceted program, which offers bulk pricing, direct shipping and discounts, is designed for high-volume customers, including businesses, nonprofit and community organizations, and entrepreneurs. Soltau was recently appointed to the Board of Directors for AutoZone. She has 30 years of experience in retail, with a background in merchandising, marketing and customer experience, as well as organization and team development and executive management. Before Jo-Ann she served as President of Shopko, rising to that role after earning various executive positions of increasing responsibility since joining in 2007. Prior to her tenure at Shopko, Soltau held several senior level positions in merchandising, planning and private brand management at Sears and Kohl’s, after starting her career with Carson Pirie Scott.

 

THE DEPARTMENT STORE SAVIOR

Michelle Gass, CEO, Kohl’s

Gass has hit the ground running in her new job, which just happens to be one of the toughest in retail. The department store chain looking to reinvent itself in the digital age reported better-than-expected financial results on both the top and bottom lines just a few days after Gass became the company’s first female CEO in May. But Gass has been making her mark at Kohl’s ever since she joined the Wisconsin-based retailer in 2013 as chief customer officer and then as head merchant in 2015. She has been credited with securing the retailer’s partnership with Amazon, launching the successful Kohl’s loyalty program, and increasing apparel sales at a time when consumers jump from one fashion trend (and brand) to the next faster than ever. Now Gass will be tasked with leading a partnership with Aldi in an effort to drive traffic and fill up space in some Kohl’s stores. Prior to Kohl’s, she worked at Starbucks for almost 17 years, overseeing marketing, food and other functions. Gass had been a key lieutenant of Howard Schultz at Starbucks and most recently served as president of the coffee chain’s Europe, Middle East and Africa region. The 49-year-old also previously worked at Procter & Gamble Co.

 

ARCHITECT OF THE WALMART EXPERIMENT

Vanessa LeFebvre, President, Lord & Taylor

Joining the company at a pivotal time with the department store category under pressure due to e-commerce is a huge operational challenge — and it falls to LeFebvre. Her parent company, HBC, just announced it plans to shutter 10 Lord & Taylor stores as it looks to create a new department store model less dependent on physical stores. If anyone can do it, it’s LeFebvre, who is a change agent with a track record of building new lines of business. LeFebvre will oversee the just-launched Lord & Taylor store on Walmart.com, which features more than 125 fashion brands not normally associated with Walmart. LeFebvre joins HBC from online retailer Stitch Fix, where she was VP of women’s buying and focused on data science and personalization. After spending the first 10 years of her career as a buyer and DMM at Lord & Taylor, LeFebvre went on to senior roles at several retailers including Macy’s, TJX Companies and Daffy’s. At Macy’s, LeFebvre was the architect of the Macy’s Backstage division, which she built into a multi-concept operation. LeFebvre actually began her career at Lord & Taylor in 1999 in the executive training program and eventually rose to divisional merchandise manager. This background, combined with her strong experience leading digitally-focused strategies and understanding of department store retailing, makes her the right person to lead Lord & Taylor into the future.

 

ON TRACK FOR GREATNESS

Judith McKenna, President and CEO,Walmart International

Before Walmart bought a controlling stake in online retailer Flipkart in May, McKenna traveled to India with Walmart CEO Doug McMillon and E-commerce CEO Marc Lore. Now that the deal is done, McKenna, as the new President and CEO of Walmart International, will oversee a division that serves more than 100 million customers every week in more than 6,200 retail units, operating outside the United States with 55 banners in 27 countries. If she can successfully navigate growth in the Indian retail market and Flipkart’s ability to ride the Indian consumer wave, McKenna could be the logical successor for McMillon, because the path to the corner office in Northwest Arkansas, with McMillon and his predecessor Mike Duke, has gone through the international division. McKenna was promoted to oversee Walmart International in February after serving as COO since 2014. McKenna’s career with Walmart began in 1996 at Asda, the company’s former U.K. operation, where she served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer. McKenna also served as Executive Vice President of Strategy and International Development for Walmart International. Upon moving to the Walmart U.S. division in April 2014, McKenna served as the business unit’s Chief Development Officer, where she led the strategy, development and growth of Walmart’s small format business and the partnership with Walmart.com to integrate digital commerce into the physical store presence. Several months later she was promoted to her expanded role as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Walmart U.S., where she has been responsible for many successful launches, including grocery pickup.

 

A PHENOM IN A COFFEE CUP

Belinda Wong, CEO of Starbucks China

Wong is leading the company’s just-announced, hyper-aggressive growth strategy to serve China’s rapidly growing middle class. China is the fastest growing market for Starbucks, with a new store opening every 15 hours. The company recently outlined key drivers that will fuel China’s market growth at its first-ever China investor conference. During the seven years that Wong has been at the helm of Starbucks in China, first as president and for the last two years as CEO, she introduced a pioneering health insurance benefit that covered the parents of employees; she implemented a housing allowance for Starbucks employees in China; and she helped launch Starbucks China University to foster employees’ development opportunities. Wong and her leadership team have tripled the size of business since 2013. Now, with over 3,300 stores in more than 141 cities, the China business is positively positioned to continue to capture the enormous growth in that country, with a goal of having 6,000 stores in 230 cities in China by 2021. She started her career with Starbucks in 2000 as marketing director for the Asia Pacific region, where she served in brand and category management as well as marketing, public relations and corporate social responsibility. Before joining Starbucks, Wong was the marketing manager of McDonald’s China Development Company, where she was responsible for formulating marketing strategies and plans for the China market.

 

ACCELERATING CPG INNOVATION

Kathleen (Kathy) B. Fish, Chief Research, Development and Innovation Officer, Procter and Gamble

Procter and Gamble’s portfolio of brands is unmatched by any CPG company, but even brands that generate billions of dollars in revenue annually can become albatrosses if they can’t deliver sales growth. As P&G’s innovation czar, it will be up to Fish to speed efforts to drive new capabilities and technologies to deliver product innovation that enables the long-term growth of the business. The global market for natural and organic personal care products is growing nearly 10 percent annually and projected to hit $17.6 billion by 2021, according to market research firm Technavio. Fish will have to tap into this growth trend by focusing innovation efforts on smaller, organic personal care brands. For now, Fish is driving efforts at P&G for more product transparency and to satisfy consumers’ demands for more natural ingredients. Fish leads the company’s innovation program and strategy; its $1.9 billion annual investment in R&D; and over 6,500 global R&D employees. She is a member of P&G’s Global Leadership Council and liaison to the Board of Director’s Innovation and Technology Committee. Fish joined P&G in Product Development (R&D). She has a strong track record of breakthrough innovation across P&G’s largest businesses (Fabric Care, Baby Care, Hair Care). Most recently, she led the Global Fabric Care R&D organization that identified the consumer need, completed the development of the products and platforms, and launched Tide and Ariel Pods and Downy/Lenor Unstopables In-Wash Scent Booster.

 

A TRADE WARRIOR IN WASHINGTON

Hun Quach, Vice President, International Trade, RILA

Hun was key in efforts to the defeat the border adjustment tax (BAT), influencing a public policy matter that has a tremendous impact on all retailers. And while she was extremely vital on BAT, she is now even more so on the current White House proposal to impose $50 billion of tariffs on goods imported from China. Hun recently testified before a committee of the U.S. Trade Representative’s office that tariffs (and announcements about tariffs) should be avoided while trade negotiations continue between China and the United States. She leads the retail industry’s trade policy agenda in Washington and coordinates with RILA’s government affairs team to advance retailers’ priorities. RILA’s expert on international trade and customs, Hun acts as a liaison between RILA members and Congress as the industry voices its support for a U.S. federal trade policy that fosters economic growth. Prior to joining RILA in 2015, Hun served as Assistant United States Trade Representative (USTR) where she served as principal liaison to members of Congress on international trade negotiations. As head of the Congressional Affairs Office, she provided strategic policy and political guidance to USTR Ambassador Michael Froman and senior administration officials. In addition to her experience at USTR, Hun spent seven years on the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, where she served as International Trade Advisor and led on international trade and customs issues while advising Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, senators and staff.

 

THE FULFILLMENT GURU

Michelle Livingstone, Vice President, Supply Chain/Transportation, The Home Depot

The answer to the question of, “Would you like to pick this up in the store or have it delivered?” is quite challenging when the item being purchased is a door, a generator or a refrigerator. But it’s Livingstone’s job to build a distribution network to satisfy any answer to this question. Livingstone has restructured Home Depot’s supply chain to integrate the experiences of online and in-store shopping. That restructuring included the development and deployment of a network of distribution centers for store replenishment and, more recently, direct-to-customer fulfillment. Livingstone is responsible for the movement of all inbound and outbound shipment into and within Home Depot’s multi-channel supply chain, including imports, exports and store deliveries. Prior to joining the company in 2007, she was senior vice president of transportation for C&S Wholesale Grocers. She was also vice president of transportation for JCPenney, and senior director of transportation for Kraft Foods North America. Livingstone serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of The Transportation Institute of the University of Denver and the board of the Coalition for Responsible Transportation; she also chairs the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and is a member of their Logistics Steering Committee.

 

GROWTH IN THE COUNTRYSIDE

Letitia Webster, VP, Omnichannel, Tractor Supply Company

You won’t find anyone who has more vision or understanding of omnichannel than Webster. So it’s not surprising that Tractor Supply Company, the largest seller of rural lifestyle products in the United States, has tasked her with leading the retailer’s omnichannel strategy called ONETractor. Webster will be helping the company lay a solid foundation for future growth by combining the company’s physical and digital assets into one seamless shopping experience that allows customers to engage anytime, anywhere and in any way they choose. Webster will have her hands full: Tractor Supply recently opened its 1,700th store, with plans to open 80 new stores in 2018. The company will also be opening a new distribution center in Frankfort, N.Y., in June and an expansion on their existing distribution center in Nebraska, which will provide additional capacity once completed. And the retailer is also rolling out more buy online-pick up in store capabilities. Prior to her current role, Webster was Divisional Merchandise Manager for Tractorsupply.com, where she was responsible for the online customer experience as well as the expansion of brands and product offerings. Prior to joining Tractor Supply Company, Webster worked for Sears Holdings Corp. for 28 years and held a number of roles within different areas of the organization, including e-commerce, merchandising, marketing and inventory.

 

RETAIL INTELLIGENCE

Shelley Bransten, SVP of Retail Industry Solutions, Salesforce

When Bransten gave a presentation at NRF’s Big Show this year, she spelled out the challenges for retailers navigating the AI revolution. Bransten told the audience that technology has created a data deluge that in many ways has clouded retailers’ view of the person that matters most: the shopper. Bransten leads a team at Salesforce working to make sense of that cloud of data. She is responsible for developing and launching transformative business solutions that address the unique challenges facing the retail industry. In her previous role leading CRM for Gap, Inc., Bransten set the vision and execution of world-class CRM programs for Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy. Bransten built out Gap’s CRM Strategy and oversaw the customer database and direct to customer marketing for the world’s largest specialty retailer. In addition to her 16 year tenure leading CRM for Gap, she served on the Board of Merchants Customer Exchange (MCX), a mobile payments and loyalty coalition with executives from leading retailers and brands such as Target, Walmart, Lowe’s Southwest Airlines, Best Buy, Exxon Mobile, etc. Bransten has also been an advisory Board Member for Loyalty One’s annual Loyalty Innovation Awards. Prior to Gap, she worked at Williams-Sonoma, Smith & Hawken and Visa USA.

 

INSPIRING NEXT-GEN RETAILERS

Rachael Jarosh, President and CEO, Enactus

Jarosh leads an organization developing a future generation of entrepreneurs that will serve as the lifeblood of a retail industry on a quest to attract and retain top talent. Enactus, formerly known as Students in Free Enterprise, is an international organization supported by major retailers that connects student, academic and business leaders through entrepreneurial-based projects that empower people to transform opportunities into real, sustainable progress for themselves and their communities. Guided by academic advisers and business experts, the student leaders of Enactus create and implement entrepreneurial projects around the globe. Enactus, which counts Walmart, Unilever, Campbell’s and other retail/CPG firms as partners, leverages the power of entrepreneurial action to set trends for the treatment of workers and expectations for others to follow. Jarosh joined Enactus in 2016 after building a distinctive professional portfolio in strategy and communications counsel to clients in the media, technology and philanthropy sectors. Jarosh brough to Enactus 22 years of experience in branding, communications and philanthropy after beginning her career as an attorney. Previously, Jarosh served as president of the Pentair Foundation, led global corporate communications for Pentair plc and worked at the intersection of private and non-profit partnerships. As the CEO of Enactus, Jarosh’s top priorities will be accelerating the organization’s impact and advancing the Enactus mission to inspire students to improve the world through entrepreneurial action.

 

A STAR ON AMAZON’S ‘S-TEAM’

Beth Galetti, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Amazon

If Amazon is a force in retail, Galetti is the force in charge of that force. As Amazon’s senior vice president of human resources, she oversees the retail industry’s largest and fastest-growing workforce, which now numbers more than 570,000 people. Galetti, currently the only woman on Amazon’s “S-team,” an elite group of about a dozen senior executives who meet regularly with founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, has a say in the company’s most important decisions, which now includes the realm of health care innovation. Galetti was the one picked to represent Amazon on the Berkshire Hathaway-led task force working to address rising health care costs in the U.S. and she has a voice in determining the site of Amazon’s second U.S. headquarters location. Prior to joining Amazon in 2013 and becoming HR chief in 2016, Galetti worked for FedEx, holding a variety of roles including vice president of planning, engineering, and operations as well as the chief information officer for FedEx EMEA. Not only does Galetti have experience in recruiting for one of the most prominent companies in the world, she also has experience leading teams for huge projects. For example, while at FedEx, she led a team of 100 software developers for the package tracking system during the process of migrating the existing system to a new technology.

 

REAL ESTATE REVOLUTIONARY

Valerie Richardson, Chairman, ICSC

Richardson is the International Council of Shopping Center’s first chairman ever to come to the post from an active retail company, and her timing couldn’t be better. At ICSC, she will be leading a 70,000-plus membership base responding to the rise of online shopping by reimagining the way in which brick-and-mortar locations are used and the related investment retailers make. Rapid change in retail real estate runs the gamut, from pop-up shops, to store pickup stations, to redesigning space for experiential retail. As vice president of real estate for the Texas–based Container Store chain, Richardson is responsible for site evaluation and lease negotiation, and for coordinating store design and construction of the company’s nationwide store expansion program. Richardson will be leading new real estate initiatives in her own company as she launches a smaller store format to better serve today’s consumers. Before joining Container Store, in the fall of 2000, Richardson was senior vice president of real estate and development at Ann Taylor, Inc., where she administered the store expansion strategy of both Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Loft. Before that, she was vice president of real estate and development for the superstore division of Barnes & Noble. Richardson began her real estate career at Dallas-based development firm Trammell Crow Co. She became an ICSC trustee in 2004.

 

SOLVING A $20B PROBLEM

Paula Price, CFO, Macy’s

Priority Number 1 for this Harvard Business School professor will be maximizing the value of Macy’s real estate portfolio to satisfy investors while serving increasingly digital shoppers. With lower in-store sales, Macy’s doesn’t need as much floor space in each store as it did a decade ago. A growing proportion of Macy’s revenue now comes from e-commerce rather than in-store sales. The company’s vast real estate portfolio could be worth as much as $20 billion — more than Macy’s entire enterprise value. The company has raised more than $1 billion in the past few years from selling various properties, and Price will be focused on plans to sell more. Price, who starts her CFO job on July 9, will have to be extremely disciplined with capital management and opportunistic with these real estate sales. Price’s appointment comes as Macy’s snapped out of a three-year losing streak in same-store sales this year. Macy’s raised its 2018 outlook after first-quarter earnings beat analyst expectations, and now forecasts earnings for the year of between $3.75 and $3.95 a share, a 20-cent increase over its previous outlook. While Price hasn’t served as a company executive since her tenure as CFO of Ahold U.S.A. Inc., she is a director on several boards. Price is currently a full-time senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, a role she has held since 2014.

 

PLAYING THE LONG GAME

Cathy Smith, Executive Vice President and CFO, Target

In early 2017, Smith embarked on an ambitious plan to help Target reshape its business model. Today, traffic is growing as shoppers respond positively to investments in stores, supply chain, new brands and digital. Smith is overseeing an investment of more than $7 billion through 2020 on a series of initiatives; the company has also increased the minimum hourly pay of employees to $12. The moves are paying off. The company’s first quarter traffic growth of 3.7% and comps of 3% demonstrate that Smith has Target on the right track for sustained growth. Now that Smith has apparently solved Target’s omnichannel dilemma (it’s one of the few retailers seeing more customers both at its stores and online), her next challenge will be corralling expenses in order to improve profit margins. Prior to joining Target in 2015 as chief financial officer, Smith served as executive vice president and chief financial officer at Express Scripts, the nation’s largest pharmacy benefit manager with $100 billion in revenue. She has also held CFO positions at Walmart International, GameStop, and others. In addition to her Target responsibilities, Smith serves on the boards of Baxter International Inc. and the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.

 

BLUEPRINT FOR NEXT-GEN RETAIL

Angela Ahrendts, SVP, Retail, Apple

As hundreds of shopping centers look for ways to re-invent themselves,

Ahrendts may hold the secret to brick and mortar success in the age of e-commerce. Her network of more than 500 Apple Stores are some of the most profitable retail real estate in the world thanks to data-driven thinking, ground-breaking store design and customer service. But Ahrendts thinks Apple can do better, by not only driving more sales in-store but by also providing a lifeline to smaller retailers and malls. Each Apple location, which Ahrendts calls “town squares” instead of stores, now features a “Forum” area with a large video screen and wood cube seating, dedicated to learning. About one-third to one-half the space in the stores serves as a place where people can meet up with friends or learn how to use Apple products. Ahrendts says the town square format is designed to attract not just Apple shoppers but people period, which drives sales at nearby retailers. Ahrendts joined Apple in 2014 and immediately made her presence felt. In her role, she has presided over the retailer’s “town square” approach to stores. She has also been credited for playing an integral role in Apple’s growth. Ahrendts joined Apple from Burberry.

 

ENABLING THE FRICTIONLESS FUTURE

Kalyna Stiles, Global Retail Solutions Director, NCR

It’s been 30 years since self-checkout machines debuted. As retailers strive to reduce or eliminate friction from their physical and digital experiences in a constantly evolving market, Stiles is on the front lines of checkout innovation. Self-checkout has remained a steadfast solution in today’s retail space and it is evolving with shopper demands to stay relevant. While shoppers have embraced self-service, they’re starting to evolve past it, looking to start the journey at home on their mobile devices and then continue in the store, or by simply purchasing everything online and having it available for quick and easy pickup. Stiles is helping retailers navigate all of this path to purchase innovation and calls on 25 years of experience in physical retail store environments. She has been instrumental in bringing NCR’s Store Transformation solution portfolio into the market (in EMEA and APAC, and now globally). Her contributions have helped make NCR the market leader in self-service solutions by proving ROI to retailers. Stiles has worked for NCR in various roles for nearly 20 years. Prior to NCR, Stiles owned her own consulting business in Australia.

 

THE DATA DRIVEN ENTERPRISE

Karen Thomas, EVP, Sales and Services, Americas, Teradata

Thomas entered the data and analytics world 30 years ago in Canada way before data and analytics were cool. Now as EVP/Sales and Service at Teradata, Thomas helps companies evolve into a “sentient enterprise” as they reimagine what’s next for Big Data in the era of AI. The sentient enterprise concept at Teradata is a road map for businesses — even large multi-national corporations — to combine technology, governance and human engagement around data in ways that preserve startup-style agility. Leading global retail companies, including eight of the top 10 U.S. retailers and 15 of the top 20 global retailers, trust Teradata to leverage enterprise-wide data for insights and actionable recommendations. Thomas has more than 25 years of experience in the areas of sales, consulting, finance, and information technology. Prior to her current role, she was vice president and general manager of the Bay Area and California region. Previously, she held multiple roles at Teradata, including area vice president, U.S. Western Region, sales director for Canada and roles in finance, operations, marketing and customer service with Teradata Canada.

 

GROCERY 3.0

Noreen Bergin, CFO, Shipt

Now that Target has acquired Shipt, Bergin will have to help the retailer figure out how to transform the grocery delivery space while keeping operational costs at bay. Since the acquisition in 2017, Shipt has been busy expanding services to more Target stores and to additional retailer partners. Between same-day delivery and curbside pickup, consumers are looking for more ways to shop, and a Shipt membership gives Target guests an additional opportunity for flexibility. The company charges members $99 per year, and is available to nearly 50 million households in more than 100 markets across the country. Bergin joined Shipt as CFO in 2017. She came from SurveyMonkey with extensive experience in finance, accounting and business operations primarily in the software and internet space. Most recently, Noreen spent eight years consulting with startups and working on community projects. From 1999 to 2001, she held the position as CFO for FusionOne, a synchronization software company. Prior to FusionOne, Noreen spent five years as SVP of Finance and Corporate Controller for Netscape, where she was responsible for all areas of worldwide finance, accounting, treasury, tax and customer operations.

 

OKAY GOOGLE, ORDER DOG TREATS

Ivy Chin, Senior Vice President, Digital, PetSmart

If PetSmart is to be successful as an omnichannel retailer fending off Amazon it will be due to the work of Chin. She leads efforts to deliver industry-leading, omnichannel shopping and engagement with enhanced fulfillment capabilities in support of PetSmart.com and its additional e-commerce platforms, such as Pet360.com, PetFoodDirect.com and Chewy.com. The company’s digital presence and omnichannel strategy has become a key focus as it looks to better serve its customers and adapt to new shopping behaviors. Currently Chin is focused on voice-enabled technology, in order to elevate the PetSmart digital experience to a completely different level in the next few years. Prior to joining PetSmart, Chin served as the senior vice president of e-commerce for Belk. She was also vice chair of the Omni-channel Task Force team at Belk charged to drive digital transformation. Before her time at Belk, she worked with QVC, Inc. as the vice president for QVC.com where she began her online career more than 20 years ago. Presently, she serves on the board for shop.org, Women in Retail Leadership Circle, National Federation Digital Council, and the editorial board for Integrated Solutions for Retailers.

 

HEAVY DUTY SALES

Stephanie Pugliese, President and CEO, Duluth Trading Company

If women are catching the lure of Duluth Trading Co.’s rugged, casual apparel, it’s thanks to Pugliese, who joined an elite group of female executives when she was named CEO in 2015. The retailer’s women’s business grew 37 percent and topped the $100 million mark in its fourth quarter earnings report released in March. The company, which is based in Wisconsin and has 31 stores, continues to grow its brick-and-mortar footprint while many other apparel retailers are contracting. The retailer says that after opening a store in a particular city, its digital sales in that city tend to surge. Pugliese’s goals for 2018 include opening 15 new stores, accelerating digital expansion and growing the women’s business even more. Pugliese has served as President of the company since February 2012 and as Chief Executive Officer since February 2015. Pugliese joined Duluth in 2008 and previously served as Chief Operating Officer from February 2014 to February 2015, as Senior Vice President and Chief Merchandising Officer from July 2010 to February 2012, and as Vice President of Product Development from November 2008 to July 2010. Prior to Duluth, she served as a senior executive in several positions with Lands’ End, Inc. from 2005 to 2008, including General Merchandising Manager of Women’s Apparel, Men’s Apparel, and the Home Division. She also previously held the position of Vice President of Merchandising at Ann Inc. from 2000 to 2003.

 

WORKING MILLENNIAL MAGIC

Karen Coppola, EVP, Chief Marketing Officer, TJX Companies Inc.

The retail industry is being disrupted by e-commerce, but you would never know it by looking at TJX Companies’ financial reports. The company in its latest report marked its 15th consecutive quarter of customer traffic increases at all of its banners. The company’s growth speaks to the resiliency of its treasure hunt business model in the face of relentless e-commerce threats and volatile economic and retail environments. And that success is due in no small part to the hard work of Coppola, who has been CMO at TJX for an astonishing 30 years. Coppola has been instrumental in setting the right marketing strategy to keep a long runway for growth ahead at TJX, both in its expanding store footprint and in sales at existing locations. Now Coppola will look to lure more millennials and Gen Z shoppers to stores by delivering a store experience that is much more fun and filled with anticipation than a routine vist to the mall or even online. With all the resources it needs to keep giving shoppers reasons to return, and with disruption in the industry widely expected to accelerate, the retailer is on track to achieve its 23rd consecutive year of positive comps in 2018 thanks to astute marketing, which consistently strikes the right tone.

 

 

WINNING THE ONLINE CPG WAR

Jennifer Silverberg, CEO, SmartCommerce

Silverberg leads SmartCommerce, an e-commerce platform designed to deliver more conversions for CPG brands. Silverberg says her team wanted to take the same impulse-buying experience a shopper may have in-store and move it online. She works with an international team to help major CPG companies such as P&G, Unilever and Nestle own and drive their customers’ buying experience. She has more than 25 years of experience working with major CPG and other brands in senior marketing and leadership positions in companies ranging from startup to Fortune 50. Prior to leading SmartCommerce, Silverberg was the SVP of marketing at Channel Intelligence, a leading commerce technology partner that was acquired by Google in 2013. She was the CMO and VP of client services at myList, a platform that helped brands such as Campbell’s, Philips and Disney identify and connect directly with their fans.

 

ACCELERATING OMNICHANNEL

Jocelyn Wong, Chief Marketing Officer, Lowe’s

Wong will be working with newly appointed CEO Marvin Ellison in developing omnichannel marketing strategies that build loyalty for the Lowe’s brand and position the company for continued growth. A big chunk of that will involve leveraging how technology is changing the expectations that customers have of home improvement retailers in ways no one could have imagined just a few years ago. One of Wong’s most important duties will be to lead a team that can leverage a multitude of data points and consumer insights to help Lowe’s become more relevant with customers and engage with them anytime and anywhere they choose. Wong has been Chief Marketing Officer of Lowe’s Companies Inc. since 2017. She served as Senior Vice President and General Merchandising Manager of Seasonal Product Business at Lowe’s from 2015 to 2017. She served as Chief Marketing Officer and Senior Vice President at Family Dollar Stores from 2012 until 2015. She has more than 18 years of experience in marketing, merchandising, brand management and product innovation with well-known retail and consumer brands, including Family Dollar, Safeway and Procter and Gamble. She began her career with Proctor and Gamble where she held various roles including Associate Marketing Director, NA Oral Care. She served as Group Vice President, Shopper Marketing for Safeway, where she led the creation of a newly formed shopper marketing organization.

 

IMPOSSIBLE GOES MAINSTREAM

Stephanie Lind, SVP, Global Sales, Impossible Foods

As consumers increasingly seek more plant-based foods, the bleeding, beefy, vegan Impossible Burger is landing on a new menu every week in more than 2,000 restaurants across America, and counting. California-based Impossible Foods has become one of the major innovators in the better-for-you food category, and it’s seeing so much business that it plans to double production at its Oakland, Calif., facility this year. It’s been seven years since the company raised its first $7 million investment, and it managed to amass another $389 million in financing as of May. As Senior Vice President of Global Sales, Lind is a major reason why Impossible Foods is soaring and why meatless meat is gaining traction with consumers. She is responsible for leading the growing startup’s sales team, overseeing food service, retail and e-commerce. Prior to joining the team at Impossible Foods in December 2017, Lind was the CEO of Elohi Strategic Advisors — the sales and marketing agency she founded in early 2015 — working closely with emerging natural and sustainable food and beverage companies. She has over 25 years of experience working in the retail and foodservice space for Fortune 500 companies including Sysco, McDonald’s supply chain partner Havi Logistics, PepsiCo and the Campbell’s Soup subsidiary Pepperidge Farm.

 

 

REIMAGINING THE CENTER STORE

Amanda Sourry, President, Unilever North America

A spate of recent acquisitions and divestitures in the CPG space illustrates how manufacturers are adjusting their portfolios to add product lines in fast-growing categories, such as natural and organic, to compensate for slower moving legacy brands, particularly in center store. Sourry’s Unilever has been busy acquiring natural personal care brands such as Sundial and Schmidt’s and has been rumored to be on the cusp of purchasing Jessica Alba’s eco-friendly Honest Co. Sourry is leading the company’s startup accelerator called the Foundry as it looks to acquire new or adjacent businesses that enable innovation externally. Sourry’s division also just launched a new personal care brand (Love, Planet and Beauty), one of more than a dozen planned for this year, that appeals to consumers looking to fulfill two wants: “brands with purpose” and all-natural. Sourry joined Unilever in 1985, held positions of increasing responsibility during a nearly 30-year career, including 17 years in the U.S., and was called on to lead the global company’s food business in 2015. She has also led Unilever’s Global Hair Business and been Executive Vice President of Unilever UK and Ireland. She has lived and worked in the UK, U.S., Belgium and Australia.

 

TAKING A LEAD ON DIVERSITY

Julie Sweet, North America CEO, Accenture

Sweet wants to accomplish what most other executives at major retail and CPG firms have not: making sure men and women are represented equally in the company’s ranks. Her goal: to get to a 50% male-50% female workforce by 2025. As of last year, the firm’s U.S. employee base was 36% women and 64% men. Sweet is leading Accenture’s partnership with the Network of Executive Women to help foster a more flexible, collaborative and inclusive workplace for women in retail and consumer goods across North America. As part of the partnership, the company is helping NEW conduct research to examine gender equality in the retail, consumer goods, technology and financial services workplace. At Accenture, Sweet is responsible for leading the company’s business in North America and also serves as a member of Accenture’s Global Management Committee. Prior to assuming her current position in June 2015, Sweet served as general counsel, secretary and chief compliance officer. As general counsel, she had ultimate responsibility for all legal support to Accenture, serving as principal counsel to senior leadership and the board of directors and leading the company’s Legal department. Before joining Accenture in 2010, Sweet was, for 10 years, a partner in the Corporate department of the law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, which she joined in 1992. RL