Jamie Jo Boulogne is the senior vice president and general merchandise manager of At Home, the home décor superstore. Prior to joining At Home, Boulogne spent several years in retail at J.C. Penney. She has been a Women in Retail Leadership Circle (WIRLC) member since February 2021. We asked Jamie Jo a series of questions so you can get to know her better.
1. What’s the best book you’ve read recently?
Hard to narrow it down to one as I’ve been exposed to many incredible books based on recommendations from others. One subject I find fascinating is leadership, and I believe there’s always a need to learn and evolve in this space. “Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done” by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan is a must read for all in our space and one we’re reading in my CEO’s book club. I’m very passionate about bringing others together and creating a culture of teamwork, which I believes starts with a leader who is committed to creating this culture.
2. What’s a tip you have for productively leading a team while working from home?
Daily alignment calls. Constant and real-time communication is key. Someone once utilized the term “micro conversations,” which I took to heart. It ensures we’re always bringing others along and staying connected in this virtual world specifically (vs. waiting for a formalized meeting time).
3. What’s a mistake you made early on in your career?
Thinking I had to be right all the time and have all of the answers! I made this mistake many times early on, thinking I had to know it all. Being humble and confident is a critical combination in my mind.
4. What’s the toughest part of being in charge?
Ensuring everyone knows the why in all situations instead of just the what.
5. What’s the best way you motivate team members?
Personal interest in each of the team members. I try to start each conversation with a personal question or connection point to show our team members how much I genuinely care about them as an individual. It’s our people that are the essence of the organization and should be my top priority getting to know them and find ways to bring out their best.
6. What woman inspires you right now and why?
Many women in my life have motivated and inspired me, but I have a dear friend and mentor who was my manager at one point. She really is the individual who helped me define the type of person I wanted to be. She demonstrated an approach to life that I admired as she never comprised her values and always did right by others even in the toughest scenarios.
7. What are you looking forward to the most for retail in 2021?
The constant evolution and innovation that’s taking place in our space. We’re all challenged to think about things in a very different way than we have ever before, and I like a challenge!
8. What’s one thing you look for when interviewing a potential candidate?
Work ethic. I believe this is one trait that cannot be taught and comes from within.
9. What’s something that you learned about yourself in the past year?
How much I value people and relationships. I’ve made choices in the past that caused me to lose sight of preserving incredibly valued relationships. This coupled with the unexpected loss of people very close to me in my life has taught me to be a better person and therefore servant leader and role model to others.
10. What’s your favorite podcast?
11. What values are most important to you as a leader?
Being vulnerable and being humble. Being a leader vs. a manager. Being visible, approachable and transparent are all critical in establishing trust with others, which I believe is the ultimate value of a leader.
12. What’s the most important thing people should know about you?
My commitment and passion for people. I consider it a privilege to play a role in someone’s life and always want to ensure I’m giving it my all.
13. What’s one habit you adopted while working remotely that you’d like to keep with you as you return to the office?
Daily check-ins just to see how someone else is doing. I reach out to one person a day, both personally and professionally, just to see how they’re doing. With the absence of social interactions in the office or outside of the office over the past year, there were no organic moments to catch up with others. It’s amazing how many times I’ve reached out to someone just to let them know I was thinking about them and how appropriate the timing was based upon something they were going through in their life.
14. How would you describe yourself in a single sentence?
Highly driven visionary, people person who is always up for a challenge and will forever be learning and growing.
15. What’s your favorite app?
Spotify. Music plays a pretty big role in my life!
16. What do you do to recharge?
Spa. There’s nothing better than a little pampering, and most importantly your cell phone isn’t allowed.
17. What’s your biggest accomplishment?
Right now, might just be the timing of the answer to this question, but the accomplishment of driving change and record-breaking results coupled with attaining my executive MBA.
18. What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Be comfortable with who you are and always take the high road even if that’s the tough road. I use the motto “positivity and thick skin” often.
19. What gets you up in the morning?
I love what I do and the people that I do it with each day. I have the opportunity of driving change in an industry I’m incredibly passionate about, and doing it with a team that I’m extremely committed to. I work for a manager that I have tremendous respect for and consider a close friend who values my contribution each day. People are what motivate people, and the idea that I’m accountable to my team is a job that I take very serious.
20. How would you describe your leadership style?
Genuine, casual, fun but high expectations with constant focus on improvement (never accepting status quo or where we are). Accountability is incredibly important, demonstrating that as well as expecting that from the team.
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