Cover Story: The Top Women in Omnichannel Retail
, Executive Vice President, General Manager, Old Navy
Deborah Podberesky serves as executive vice president, general manager, Old Navy, leading the brand's merchandising, inventory management and online teams to deliver accessible American fashion essentials for every family. A 23-year veteran of Gap Inc., Deborah has held roles throughout the organization in merchandising, planning, marketing and finance. In her previous role as senior vice president of Gap Inc. Direct, she was responsible for all aspects of the e-commerce businesses for Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic, driving multichannel strategies across the enterprise.
TIP: Always think about the customer first through any experience. Different channels can uniquely serve varying needs of the customer, and those distinctions should be maximized. However, when different channels complement rather than compete, you can unlock real brand value.
Catherine Sadler , Global Chief Marketing Officer, Banana Republic
Catherine Sadler is Banana Republic's global chief marketing officer, leading all aspects of the marketing organization to create brand advocacy and awareness worldwide. She's spearheaded successful partnerships and collaborations with "Mad Men," Virgin America and L'Wren Scott, to name a few. Throughout her career, Catherine has been a proven innovator and creative leader for retailers like Coach, Urban Zen and Conran's. Catherine also led her own creative and marketing agency, with clients including Donna Karan, Tiffany & Co., and Safilo. Catherine has been a guest lecturer at Essec Graduate School in Paris as well as an expert panelist at Columbia Business School. Her work has contributed to personal and brand awards, including induction into the Academy of Women Achievers, Catalog Age Awards and the Gold Lion award for retail marketing from the Cannes Film Festival.
TIP: Consistent and seamless omnichannel integration is critical in today's cluttered retail marketplace. Consumers now engage wherever and whenever they desire and are seeking personal and relevant brand interactions at each and every touchpoint. It's no longer just about the store experience; it's equally about the one they're having with the brand right in the palm of their hand.
Jennifer Sey, Chief Marketing Officer, Levi's Brand at Levi Strauss & Co.
Jen Sey currently holds the post of global chief marketing officer for the Levi's brand. She assumed the role in September after holding a variety of marketing, strategy and commercial posts at Levi's. Sey began her career 20 years ago at advertising agency Foote Cone & Belding, where she "learned the ropes" working with a variety of brands, including Levi's and Taco Bell. She went on to become Banana Republic's advertising manager and was a key driver of transitioning the brand from "safari" to "sophisticated." In 1999, Sey joined Levi Strauss & Co. and held a broad range of positions, including director of marketing for U.S. Levi's, senior director of global strategy for Levi's, vice president of global marketing for Levi Strauss & Co., and senior vice president for Dockers global marketing. In 2012, Sey stepped into the role of senior vice president of global e-commerce, driving the business and replatforming efforts for both levi.com and dockers.com. In 2006, Sey was named one of the "Top 40 Marketers under 40" and in 2008 she released her first book, "Chalked Up," a memoir detailing her triumphs and struggles as a young girl within the world of competitive gymnastics. Sey now lives in San Francisco with her two sons and lends her voice to online outlets Salon.com, Mommytrackd.com and BasilandSpice.com. She also continues the work she started with "Chalked Up" as an athlete advocate.
TIP: Be fluid, stay future focused. Iterate, test, learn, roll. Nothing is stagnant; the world is ever changing in omnichannel retail. Therefore, flexibility and a test-and-roll mind-set are critical to future success. That and strong IT partners!
Leontyne Green Sykes, Chief Marketing Officer, Ikea
US As chief marketing officer for Ikea US since 2009, Leontyne Green Sykes focuses on game-changing programs that deliver significant growth and consumer awareness for the global lifestyle home furnishings brand. During Green Sykes' tenure, overall awareness of the Ikea brand has risen 10 percent. Green Sykes approaches the role of CMO as a change agent, focusing her efforts on dismantling silos and maximizing integration between the marketing and communications functions within her organization. She's established new ways of working within Ikea and is leading an effort to transform the way the organization creates its annual strategic business plan. Green Sykes formalized an integrated marketing communications leadership team designed to drive bigger, more impactful direct-to-consumer programs, and has championed an integrated process that begins with the business goals of the U.S. operation, involves the input of all internal stakeholders, and results in a more efficiently managed marketing communications plan rooted in driving business performance. Green Sykes joined Ikea as a regional marketing manager in 2006. She began her marketing career at Johnson & Johnson's McNeil Consumer Healthcare, where she worked as a marketing manager across several brands.
TIP: My best tip for succeeding in omnichannel retailing is to keep the consumer at the center; respond to how consumers want to engage with the brand; and don't be afraid to test and learn from mistakes.
Catalina Maddox-Wagers , Senior Vice President,
Chief Merchandising and Marketing Officer, Things Remembered
Catalina Maddox-Wagers is senior vice president, chief merchandising and marketing officer at Things Remembered, a retailer of personalized gifts. In this role, Maddox-Wagers applies her cultivated industry expertise and multichannel retail experience to further evolve the Things Remembered brand in product development, brand marketing, and in-store and online merchandising. Prior to joining Things Remembered, Maddox-Wagers served as executive vice president and general merchandising manager for wedding specialty retailer David's Bridal, where she was respected for breaking norms and expanding the brand's marketing footprint, including the introduction of three of the retailer's most successful brands: "White" by Vera Wang, Melissa Sweet and DB Studio.
TIP: Always consider the customer experience, and remember that every contact should build your brand. We also need to realize that customers move seamlessly between mobile, in-store and online platforms; each touchpoint isn't finite.