The Top Women in Retail 2016: Shelley Broader, President and CEO, Chico’s
What do you enjoy most about working in the retail industry?
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.
If you weren’t working in the retail industry, what do you think you’d be doing?
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.
How would you describe your leadership style?
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.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received, and who gave you the advice?
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.
Do you have any mentors in the retail industry?
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.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
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.