Jamie Martin is the vice president of merchandise operations and inventory management at MDesign, a direct-to-consumer, digital-native vertical brand that brings solutions with style to consumers’ homes through thoughtfully designed storage and décor products. She’s also a Women in Retail Leadership Circle member! We asked Jamie a series of questions about her career, leadership approach, hiring strategy, and other subjects so you can get to know her better.
- What’s the best book you’ve read recently?
“Soulful Simplicity” by Courtney Carver. I’m continually seeking more ways and ideas around simplifying things in my work and personal life with the goal of better balance and focus.
- What’s a tip you have for productively leading a remote or hybrid team?
Blocking time on your calendar to be available for your team. Also, schedule and keep weekly touch-bases so you have a dedicated time for each of your direct reports. You may need to adjust the day or the amount of time, but making sure you stay connected with your team and giving them one-to-one time every week is so critical. This is also a great way to ensure everyone is aligned on priorities because things can change so fast. You must make sure you’re all on the same page.
- What’s a mistake you made early on in your career?
Being defensive about my work and not stepping back to realize it was support I was receiving instead of criticism. I felt so invested in my work and knew how much effort I was applying that any small critique could be frustrating. I learned from a great leader how to identify this in myself. The last thing I wanted was for my teammates to feel I wasn’t open to other ideas or ways of doing something.
- What’s the toughest part of being in charge?
Feeling like I can always do more to invest in my teams. And really being honest, the toughest while extremely important is adjusting my style and the way I communicate for each person since everyone is just a little different. I like to tailor my approach, so the conversations or time spent are meaningful and impactful.
- What’s the best way you motivate team members?
It really depends on each person. It can be as simple as expressing gratitude for tackling a project or acknowledging that you know the day-to-day work can be tough and thanking them for managing through. Also, in weekly touch-bases, reinforcing the recognition and understanding but giving timely, candid feedback as well. I’ve found when people feel you’re truly invested in them and can understand what’s really going on for them … that can be a great motivator.
- What woman inspires you right now and why?
That’s tough to narrow just to one. There are quite a few that I sit and watch in awe with everything they do.
- What are you looking forward to the most for the industry in 2022?
The continued disruption and shift in consumer shopping trends. Also, to hopefully see some normalcy resume at some point with shipping and logistics challenges.
- What’s one thing you look for when interviewing a job candidate?
Fit and curiosity are the top two things. Will this person fit our culture? Do they have the resiliency and curiosity to help us deliver our goals and their own goals? Curiosity is a big one for me!
- What’s something that you learned about yourself in the past year?
I’m more resilient than I give myself credit for and it’s OK to take the time to recharge.
- What’s your favorite podcast?
Learning Leader and Be You, Unapologetically
- What values are most important to you as a leader?
Integrity, honesty, empathy and patience
- What’s the most important thing people should know about you?
I’m quite introverted, but I stretch myself, especially at work, to be more of an extrovert and a driver.
- What’s one habit you adopted while working from home that you’d like to keep with you as you return to the office?
I block a lunch break — and I keep it. The timing may shift depending on the day, but allowing myself an hour to focus on what I need has been a big help. Even if it’s just to breathe for a moment or eat.
- How would you describe yourself in a single sentence?
I can operate at a very high level but also understand the micro detail which is helpful for challenging and supporting my teams while keeping their best interest at heart.
- What’s your favorite app?
I love Pinterest — so many great ideas, tips and recipes.
- What do you do to recharge?
Take a walk on the beach or just sit and watch the waves crash, walk my dogs, and treat myself to a facial or pedicure.
- What is your biggest accomplishment?
Being a mom, honestly. The most rewarding, but hardest job that teaches you everything about juggling priorities/calendars/finances and trying to raise a kind human that will grow to be successful in some way in the future.
- What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Own your seat at the table, have the confidence to advocate for yourself, and a great mentor goes a long way. Also, remember to take time for yourself to recharge; it’s good for you and ultimately your team and company.
- What gets you up in the morning?
The work needed done for projects or process improvements needed to support the growth of our business. And my dogs require it!
- How would you describe your leadership style?
Empathetic and supportive while challenging the team to push for continual improvement at work and for their growth and development. I was taught servant leadership early on in my leadership roles and it really resonated with my own ways and beliefs of treating people.
Interested in connecting with women like Jamie? Apply today to become a Women in Retail Leadership Circle member!