Top Women in Retail 2017: Becky Gebhardt, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Lands’ End
What do you enjoy most about working in the retail industry?
I enjoy the evolution of the consumer mind-set when it comes to purchasing and the ability for retailers to adapt to new consumer expectations. Consumers are using social influences digitally, devouring product reviews, and looking for quick and easy ways to get the merchandise they want. They’re making informed, smart and fast decisions through a more diverse portfolio of channels, and quickly adopting new purchasing habits to meet the needs of their busy lifestyles.
As a retailer, we’re continuously challenged to not only keep up, but also stay a step ahead. At Lands’ End, we’ve always made it a mission to look to the future while honoring our rich heritage. As a long-term employee of Lands’ End, I’m honored to be a part of this exciting time as we build upon our rich heritage and explore new projects and initiatives to grow into a meaningful global lifestyle brand.
If you weren't working in the retail industry, what do you think you'd be doing?
I’d love to be the editor of my own magazine some day.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I’m a collaborator at heart and have always believed in the strength of working together as a team! I’m in my comfort zone when I can roll up my sleeves and work alongside a group of people who bring their creative ideas to the table. It’s exciting to lead cross-functional teams with diverse skill sets, and see how we can come together to build innovative new processes, successful solutions and implement new ideas that make a positive impact.
What's the best advice you ever received, and who gave you the advice?
Be true to you! When I was attending a management program at Kellogg, one of my mentors had a heart-to-heart conversation with me, and it was one of the most defining moments in my career. Her advice was direct: “The true strengths and leadership skills you possess should not be suddenly perceived as your weakness. If that’s the case, run; you’re in the wrong company trying to succeed in an environment that doesn’t match your core values. Believe in yourself and don’t change your leadership style to align with a company’s overall management style to be more effective … it simply won’t work.”
Do you have any mentors in the retail industry?
I was lucky to have had the chance to work with Gary Comer and Dick Anderson, the founding fathers of Lands’ End. I was very young in my career and it was an incredible experience to be sitting at the table and witness the forward thinking and innovative ideas that they could inspire. They were true visionaries, and I’ve always been so impressed with the way they crafted and modeled Lands’ End into the company they knew it could and should be — a company that stood behind its products no matter what, put the customer first and always believed in its people. They were true icons and ahead of their time in many, many ways.
What do you enjoy doing when you're not working?
I love spending time with my husband and three kids. We just recently adopted a Bernese Mountain dog, named Aspen, so there’s never a dull moment in our house. I also find incredible inspiration spending time in the mountains, whether it’s running, hiking or, my favorite, downhill skiing in Steamboat.
To see the full list of this year's Top Women in Retail honorees, click here.