At the Women in Retail: On the Road event in Dallas earlier this month, Jennifer Thornton, founder and executive coach, 304 Coaching, moderated a panel discussion that focused on unique and innovative solutions to career and business challenges. Joining Thornton on the stage were Laura Denk, chief merchandising officer, Michaels; Holly Briedis, executive vice president, chief digital officer, Fossil Group; Lindy Rawlinson, senior vice president, e-commerce and digital marketing, The Container Store; and Vanathy Lakshmi, vice president of product, JCPenney.
Focused on career and business initiatives, the panel opened with challenges faced by these leaders. They explained how they were able to get through difficult situations with confidence and courage. The experiences led to extreme change and adjustments for the panelists.
For Lakshmi, she is still navigating her new position. She has discovered a process to answer her questions and find the rhythm of a new company, and she calls it her personal onboarding guide.
- Find an understanding of the company’s business goals.
- Who are they serving?
- Where do I see strengths and where do I find weaknesses?
- What does my team look like and how do they work together?
Mentorship and a love for learning can propel your new career forward. With today’s work-from-home mentality, many important decisions and ideas were put on the back burner. Communication was cut short and navigating these new waters were daunting.
Denk embraced this change when it came, using it to motivate herself and inspire her team. She advocated for meetings rather than emails and worked to build an even stronger relationship with her team.
What got Denk through this transition was her love for learning. A strong relationship with her team built trust and clarity. With the help of her team, she realized that it’s never too late to learn; she inspires others do to the same. No matter the position or how long you have been with a company, there’s always more to learn. That should be exciting, not scary.
“I used to really care about being perfect, and now I really don’t care,” Denk said.
Fostering a work community centered around education and innovation, similar to Denk’s approach, has helped Briedis get to where she is. Briedis understands that as a new employee, there’s much to learn. She encourages people to speak up and share their own insights, rather than remaining silent or possibly going to someone else.
To aide this approach, Briedis’ team created a bi-weekly digital transformation steering committee. This meeting allows discussion time to hear smaller voices from different sectors of the Fossil Group business.
“It’s a broad group of people and it helps you get to better answers quicker,” Briedis explained.