In this episode of Women in Retail Talks, Women in Retail Leadership Circle Co-Founder Melissa Campanelli chats with Jennifer Sey, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of global brands at Levi Strauss & Co., a worldwide legacy retail brand. Listen in as Sey discusses her career journey, including her 20 years of experience working at Levi’s, and her current role at the brand. She discusses Levi’s history of social and civil activism, and touches specifically on the brand’s recent nonpartisan education and outreach on voter participation in the United States during the 2018 midterm election. (Levi’s plans to continue that initiative during the 2020 presidential election.) Earlier this year, Levi Strauss & Co. organized a corporate push for common-sense gun safety legislation that included a letter sent to the United States Senate with signatures from nearly 150 CEOs of global brands backing the effort.
Sey goes on to discuss her childhood experiences as a competitive gymnast, and how that challenging and difficult time of her life shaped her value-led leadership style today. She shares her hiring strategy and why she emphasizes diversity, inclusion, values orientation, and love for the Levi’s brand when building her team. Sey discusses the two best pieces of advice she’s ever received, the creative passion projects she’s currently working on, and how everyone has their own unique Levi’s story.
Jennifer Sey has been with Levi Strauss & Co. for more than 20 years, holding a variety of leadership positions within the marketing, strategy and e-commerce teams. In 2013, Jen became the global chief marketing officer for the Levi’s® brand, and in 2018 was appointed senior vice president and chief marketing officer, overseeing marketing for the company’s portfolio of brands. She’s also a member of the company’s global leadership team, which guides the strategic direction for LS&Co.
Jen has received numerous awards, including the distinction of being named one of Ad Age’s “Top 40 Marketers Under 40” in 2006, one of Brand Innovators’ “Top 50 Women in Marketing” in 2015, Billboard Magazine’s “Top 25 Most Powerful People in Music and Fashion,” recipient of the 2018 CMO Social Responsibility Award, and was featured on Forbes’ CMO Next List for 2018: 50 Chief Marketers Who Are Redefining the CMO Role. In 2018, under Sey’s direction, the Levi’s brand was awarded a Silver Cannes Lions award for the “Circles” advertising campaign, the most ambitious chapter from the Live in Levi’s® effort.
As a child, Jen led an intense life of dedication, challenge and competition. She won the U.S. National Gymnastics Championship title in 1986, less than one year after having suffered a devastating injury at the 1985 World Championships. As a result, the U.S. Olympic Committee named her Gymnastics’ Athlete of the Year. Jennifer retired after eight years on the national team and went on to study at Stanford University. In 2008, Sey released a memoir, “Chalked Up,” a New York Times e-book best-seller detailing her triumphs and struggles within the world of competitive gymnastics. She has published an op-ed in the New York Times and her writing has been featured in a variety of outlets as a leading voice in athlete advocacy, seeking to drive cultural and legal changes towards safety and athlete empowerment.
Jen is on the board of directors for the Red Tab Foundation, an organization within LS&Co. committed to the mission of employees helping employees and retirees in times of need.
Jen lives in San Francisco with her husband, Daniel, and her four children, Virgil, Wyatt, Oscar and Ruth.
Date: October 8, 2019
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