There are so many wonderful and fabulous members of the Women in Retail Leadership Circle (WIRLC). In today’s issue of Inner Circle, we’re excited to bring you an interview we conducted with Christine Buscarino, senior vice president of e-commerce and marketing at Adrianna Papell Group. Christine touches on a number of topics, including leadership, hiring, mentorship and much more. We want all of you to get to know a little better the women who make WIRLC such an inspiring and impressive group. Enjoy!

WIRLC: What’s the most difficult conversation you’ve had professionally in the past year, and how did you get through it?
CB: In the past year, I decided to leave a company and friends that I spent over 20 years of my career with to move back home to N.Y. Leaving and having that difficult conversation was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. Office Depot was always good to me and I grew tremendously there. It was important to me that I left the company with the highest level of respect.

I took that difficult conversation and used it as an opportunity to say a heart-felt “thank you.” When people leave an organization, they focus on why they’re leaving and at times what they felt they needed in their new organization. When I moved on, I thanked my peers and leaders for the opportunities I had throughout the years (some more difficult than others), and took the time to share with my organization how I succeeded there and to not be afraid to work hard and try new things.

I commended the individuals and the company on the decisions we made and the great things we did as a team. The reception I got to the thank-you approach was something I will never forget. It was appreciated and respected, and it drove many others to share their stories with me. What could have been a difficult conversation became very rewarding and touched me in a way that makes me feel good about the legacy I left behind.

WIRLC: Can you discuss mentors you’ve had in your life and why were they important?
CB: I’ve had many mentors in my life starting with my parents, but later in my professional life three individuals stand out to me.  

  • My first has become a friend now. Early in my career Mary opened doors for me that I could have never opened on my own. She taught me to never limit my thinking, to ask when I had a question and not to be afraid to be curious. The thoughts and questions I had for her opened doors to many people who may not have known me otherwise, and in the professional world we all know how important that can be.
  • My second taught me everything I know about e-commerce and marketing. Monica was a mentor and coach, and now friend who really taught me the ins and outs of a growing business and as a woman how to never be afraid to ask for more responsibility. She taught me how to develop the respect and confidence of others and to build confidence in myself, which was most important.
  • My last taught me to think about me. Bob encouraged me to go back to school and earn my degree, later leading to a MBA. He encouraged me to not be afraid about how long it had been and to get “outside” learning without leaving a company I had grown up with and knew so well. It was important to my professional career to advance my thinking in different verticals without leaving the one I was in, as well as in the event it was at some point time to move on to a new role outside of my current organization.

WIRLC: What defines your leadership style?
CB: I try really hard to lead by example in a very open and encouraging way. I encourage my team to take those balanced risks and to leverage me to work through the thoughts they have on approach. I encourage curiosity and allowing others to come up with ideas that will better the business and themselves, and to leverage me as their leader who can help them balance their thoughts and develop a winning plan.

As a leader, I’ll never take credit for someone else’s work and my door is always open. I feel gratified when my team succeeds. I’m one that’s not afraid to roll up my sleeves, but also make the hard decisions that a leader has to do. I encourage others to not be afraid to grow and try new things. No one advances standing still.

WIRLC: How do you hire?
CB: I hire for diverse talents. I believe in hiring smarter than me and complementing the team’s capabilities. No one of us is better than the other, and we don’t necessarily have common talents, but together we’re strong and, long term, each individual learns from the other to become great, well-rounded leaders. I hire more for passion and capability than I do degree, and I look for individuals that aren’t afraid of change and trying new things.

WIRLC: What’s your favorite quote?
CB: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” — Dr. Seuss