Women in Retail Leadership Circle (WIRLC) recently released its 11th annual Top Women in Retail report, featuring in-depth interviews with top female executives in the retail space.
The report also features our second annual list of Women on the Rise, the next great leaders in the retail industry. Honorees, all of whom were nominated by Women in Retail Leadership Circle members, Inner Circle e-newsletter subscribers, WIRLC partners and retail industry insiders, are managers, directors or vice presidents; younger than 40; and currently employed by a retail organization.
One such woman on the rise featured in this year’s report is Keir Harris, vice president and head of sales at the Ralph Lauren Corporation. Here’s an excerpt of the interview with Harris:
Women in Retail Leadership Circle: What do you love about working in the retail industry?
Keir Harris: For me it’s the perfect mix of using my left brain and my right brain. I get to take my education in business and something that I’ve loved since I was a child and combine the two every day. I love that our products are tangible, accessible and part of everyone’s daily life. I love seeing people wear our product as I’m walking down the street or watching TV. I also love that the industry and the way the customer shops is constantly evolving. Plus, as an added bonus, it’s refreshing and inspiring to see so many powerful women leaders in the industry (although there could always be more!). I know that our industry is special and unique in many ways, and I don’t take that for granted.
WIRLC: What does it mean to you to be named a rising star in retail?
KH: It’s such an honor! I’ve worked incredibly hard in my career and this recognition by such an incredible organization was so unexpected and is incredibly appreciated. Often we get caught up in our day-to-day responsibilities (especially these past 18 months), and I’m thrilled to attend the Women in Retail Leadership Summit and meet so many talented, high-achieving, phenomenal women in retail. So much of what we do in this industry is about partnership and collaboration, and I’m thrilled to meet so many new like-minded women in the industry.
WIRLC: What skills do you possess that you believe have been instrumental in your career development?
KH: I have a pretty good balance of people skills, financial acumen, integrity, determination, an unwavering work ethic, and a passion for the brand and product that I work with every day. Passion is key, and if you can combine that passion with flawless execution, you can achieve your goals. Also, evolving and adapting with the times have been key to my success. What works for early in your career isn’t necessarily the same skill set that’s needed as you grow into leadership roles. So constantly being a sponge and learning as I grow has been critical to my career development.
WIRLC: Do you feel mentorship has helped you rise in your career? If so, how?
KH: Absolutely! It takes a village and I would be nowhere without mine! Mentorship comes in many forms and I have had mentors, sponsors, cheerleaders and relentless coaches throughout my career. Having someone who has an interest in seeing you flourish and become the best version of yourself is critical. They can be a sounding board when you’re facing a difficult decision, a confidant when you encounter a difficult situation, provide advice as you’re trying to navigate your next career move, or push you when you think you’ve reached your limit. Also, not all of my mentors have been more experienced or senior to me — some of my most trusted advisors are my friends. Remember, iron sharpens iron! I also take that approach as I mentor others as well — we all need one another to lift us up, bring up our names in rooms where we’re not present, and push us to be greater. No one can do it alone.
WIRLC: What are your career goals?
KH: Ultimately I plan to be CEO one day in the not-too-distant future.
WIRLC: What do you like to do for fun?
KH: I love traveling, cooking, spending quality time with friends and family, Pilates, binge watching a great show, and dining out. I also miss Broadway.
Check out interviews with all of our 2021 Top Women in Retail and Women on the Rise by downloading the full report here.