These Female Executives Are Helping Diane Sullivan Reshape Caleres

Caleres Women in Power

Each day in June, FN is highlighting female forces in the industry as part of our Women in Power series.

One footwear company that has made female leadership a key focus is Caleres Inc., headed by chairman, president and CEO Diane Sullivan. Here, four more dynamic women from the organization share their thoughts on leading through change and making the most of every opportunity.

Deb Krivelow
SVP & GM of LifeStride and Ryka, Caleres

Debbie Krivelow LifeStride Ryka Caleres Deb Krivelow, SVP & GM of LifeStride and Ryka Courtesy of Caleres

What was the biggest breakthrough moment in your career?
“Becoming GM of LifeStride. It was the first moment in my career to truly see the big picture. Having spent many years on both the retail and wholesale sides of the business, I was now able to combine my learnings and focus my team to drive sustainable growth.”

Anything you would have done differently?
“Looking back over the last 19 years, I am sure that there are so many things I could’ve or should’ve done differently, but I was working with the toolbox that I had at the time. I don’t spend a lot of time looking back; instead I focus on what each event has taught me. I try to use these learnings to make better decisions today.”

Do you think women do enough to support other women in the workplace?
“We can always do more to help each other. It’s a busy environment, and there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. But overall I do feel that women support other women. From small things, such as being there to offer advice, to big things such as supporting WIFI [Women in the Footwear Industry] initiatives.”

Looking back, what advice would you give to your younger self?
“Take a deep breath. Smile. Focus on what counts, and let the rest go.”

 

Karlyn Mattson
Chief merchandising officer for Famous Footwear, Caleres

Karlyn Mattson Famous Footwear Caleres Karlyn Mattson, chief merchandising officer for Famous Footwear Courtesy of Caleres

What was the biggest breakthrough moment in your career?
“A leader shared with me that being an agent of change is what organizations need, not just someone who does their job well.”

Anything you would have done differently?
“I would have asked for mentors earlier in my career; I have found them invaluable.”

Do you think women do enough to support other women in the workplace?
“I think there is always opportunity to improve on this — it truly needs to be a focus for all leaders. It can make a significant difference in the culture of an organization or functioning of a team. From a personal level, it is exceptionally rewarding to help women actualize their career goals and support their work/life balance. Mentorship, coaching and advocacy is a big part of this support.”

What is the biggest challenge you faced in the last year?
“Leading through change is always a leadership challenge. Having done this several times in my career, I have learned that it is about helping your team understand and engage in the vision, communicate as transparently as possible and provide clarity, focus and support through that change curve.”

What advice would you give to your younger self?
“Don’t let fear hold you back, embrace it!”

 

Michelle Mackin
SVP & GMM of buying for Famous Footwear, Caleres

Michelle Mackin Famous Footwear Caleres Michelle Mackin, SVP & GMM of buying for Famous Footwear Courtesy of Caleres

What was the biggest breakthrough moment in your career?
“Learning patience from our president, Rick Ausick. Retail is no longer ‘read and react.’ The winners are those who step back and see their plans through and don’t panic on a bad day or a bad week. A good plan usually works itself out.”

Anything you would have done differently?
“Every day you can question what you did the day before. I find that looking forward and seizing the new opportunities is the only way to not only survive but to thrive.”

Do you think women do enough to support other women in the workplace?
“Women could always do more to support each other. It takes extra effort to connect with your team and your peers. Getting to know other women on a personal level is the first step. Respecting as well as understanding their ambitions and goals so you can mentor and help them would serve all women better. It all has to begin with the recognition that female leaders have to create the organization’s culture.”

What advice would you give to your younger self?
“Don’t sweat the small stuff. Things really do happen for a reason, and things usually work out just the way they are supposed to. Focus on long-term gains, not the short-term ones. It really is a marathon, not a sprint.”

 

Marissa McCarriagher
VP for Sam Edelman, Caleres

What was the biggest breakthrough moment in your career?
“It’s a funny story because I had thought I would go into PR, so I started as a receptionist at a well-known dress shoe brand with the promise to get moved into the PR department after a six-month trial. Then one day the head designer, Gabe Morales, and I struck up a conversation, and he learned that I can sketch. He asked me to work on a small project for him, and I was so excited that I went completely above and beyond what was asked. He was so impressed that he took me on as an associate designer, and the rest is history.

Anything you would have done differently?
“There was a point in my life where I questioned my path to becoming a designer, so I switched my changed my courses at school to focus on PR and marketing. Thankfully destiny got in the way and put me right back on the art-and-design path. The lesson I learned was to never ignore your true talent and gifts, and to work hard to bring out the best in yourself.”

Do you think women do enough to support other women in the workplace?
“Women supporting women is such an important concept, and I think we in the footwear industry are particularly lucky because of organizations like WIFI that foster these relationships and offer us the chance to meet, mentor and learn from each other. I’m also very lucky to have had women like my personal mentor, Libby Edelman, to be inspired by with all the work she does.”

What is the biggest challenge you faced in the last year?
“I faced a personal tragedy when I lost my father this past year. In times like that, you take a step back, gain perspective and see just how much the people around you care about you, not only as a designer but as a human being. Sam and Libby, and the rest of my Sam Edelman work family, supported me in so many ways, and I couldn’t be more grateful.”

What advice would you give to your younger self?
“Say yes to as many possibilities, opportunities and experiences as possible. Join communities like WIFI that nurture talent and empower women, and give and receive help whenever possible.”

 

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