Angie Rieger, senior vice president, international at Lands’ End, is a Women in Retail Leadership Circle board member and retail veteran. The below is a first-person account of a recent business trip Angie took to Japan, giving us a glimpse into her world and the opportunity to get to know her better!
Lands’ End has full operations in Japan — merchandising, planning, call center, creative, HR, finance teams and a distribution center. I travel regularly (monthly), and am in Europe every four weeks to six weeks, and Japan every eight weeks to 10 weeks. Similar to Japan, we have full operations in the U.K., and in Germany we have marketing, finance, and HR teams, in addition to a returns processing center and a call center. I work my travel schedule around key product development milestone meetings as the merchandising and planning teams come to our U.S. headquarters to build seasonal assortments and plan inventory buys.
3:30 a.m. I’m awake — wide awake. I shouldn’t be, but I’m in Japan and my body is done sleeping. I lay in bed reading in the hopes I can fall back asleep. It’s 1:30 p.m. at home. I send a few texts to friends, check in with my husband. Sleep isn’t happening, so I get up, fire up my laptop and get to work.
6:00 a.m. I lace up my running shoes and head out for a six-mile run along the Meguro River. I love running in new places, and I’ve found that the best way to learn your way around an unfamiliar city is on foot!
7:00 a.m. I shower and head to the lounge for breakfast, and to read more emails. I’m currently 14 hours ahead of my home office, so my inbox is full and needs addressing. I grab a light breakfast and a diet coke (I know, it’s my vice and I’m not proud of it).
8:00 a.m. I have a car waiting to take me to the office. It’s a luxury; taking the train would cost less, but the car allows me to take phone calls the entire time. It’s now 6 p.m. at home and there’s a lot to catch up on.
8:45 a.m. It’s go time! The day is fully booked with meetings ranging from sales updates, marketing updates, inventory reviews and general updates with the team. I head to the conference room loaded down with water and another diet coke.
12:00 p.m. I leave for lunch. Lunch in Japan is such a treat since one can get fantastic sushi for $9-$12. Typically when I’m in the States I eat yogurt and fruit, so I try to enjoy local food and forget about the calories! This particular sushi place is on the sixth floor of a narrow building about a 10-minute walk from the office. It feels so good to walk since I’ve been sitting all morning.
1:00 p.m. Back at the office. My afternoon is spent working with my leadership team. We have personnel issues to address; strategic planning updates due as it’s budgeting season; and preparation for a meeting with a potential vendor partner.
5:30 p.m. Back in the car, this time I have the Japan MD with me. We’re meeting someone for dinner that I met last time while at the Narita airport. Sounds odd, I know, but in a country where the culture and customs are so different, I’m using every opportunity to learn from those who have been successfully working and living in the country. I happened to be talking to this gentleman and once we got on the flight, he gave me his business card. He has proven to be a good sounding board for issues that have come up related to opening and closing times of our call center, employee expectations, etc. You never know where you’ll find a great resource you can learn from!
7:00 p.m. We arrive at the restaurant, order a cocktail to unwind and start to talk about what we’ve learned, including our wins as well as our challenges.
9:30 p.m. Jumping in a taxi, headed to the hotel for the night.
10:00 p.m. Face washed, pajamas on and guess what — it’s 8 a.m. at home! That means a quick check-in with my husband and boys (both of whom are in college). I then scan through emails for anything pressing, send a couple of follow-ups, and try to get to bed before everyone gets into the office in the States and it becomes too hard to sleep.