How 3 Powerful Women Behind Ugg, Teva & Deckers Brands Get Things Done

Maggie Winkel Wendy Yang Andrea O'Donnell
Maggie Winkel, Wendy Yang and Andrea O'Donnell.
Courtesy.

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

Here, three female forces behind Deckers Brands and two of its beloved footwear labels Ugg and Teva get candid on breakthrough career moments and helping other women become successful.

Andrea O’Donnell, President of Fashion & Lifestyle Brands

Breakthrough career moment:

“I went to the London School of Economics in the UK and everyone that went there became a banker or accountant. I didn’t want to do either. After a couple of false starts—telesales and working in a fashion boutique—I got a job as an entry-level clerk in a fashion brand and the rest is history.”

What I would have done differently:

“Nothing. That’s not to say I haven’t made mistakes, of course I have. Retail is a dynamic and high-risk industry. Products, markets and consumers are constantly changing. However, in my view success will come if you move fast, learn as you run and can be both strategic and practical. You also need to be resilient and as I often say to my team, ‘Realistic in the short term and optimistic in the long term.’ Easy to say, difficult to do.”

Biggest challenge of the past year:

“Being away from my family for a year. I started my current job in April 2016 and my daughter was in her last year of high school in Hong Kong. It would have been too disruptive to move her so I moved to California on my own. I have made a lot of friends here in Santa Barbara and had a great deal of fun in the last year but there is no substitute for family.”

Advice for my younger self:

“Young people have energy and drive but often times lack the experience to channel that energy into action. I would advise my younger self to stop getting frustrated, angry and stressed if things don’t go my way and focus on fixing problems. As an older and wiser woman once said to me, ‘Learn the lesson, lose the pain, Andrea.’”

Wendy Yang

President of Performance Lifestyle Brands

Breakthrough career moment:

“Joining Reebok back in 1992. I joined right after my three-year career on the professional women’s tennis circuit and after obtaining my MBA at Kellogg business school. It was the perfect opportunity for me to combine my experience and passion. I became the associate product manager for tennis. At the time, Reebok was vying with Nike for the No. 1 position in athletic footwear and it was a great high-energy culture with lots of opportunity. I’ve been fortunate to have other strong career experiences. I think back fondly to working with great teams at Timberland and New Balance, for example.”

What I would have done differently:

“I feel fortunate that I’ve had so many opportunities present themselves over the course of my career, and that I’ve been able to take advantage of the knowledge and growth that each has provided. It would have been easy to stay at just one company, but I’ve learned so much at each of the amazing brands I’ve had the good fortune of working with. And I’ve learned from both my positive and not-so-positive experiences at all of them.”

Women supporting women:

“I absolutely believe there are great women who are strong role models and good leaders and there is absolutely room for more female leaders to rise through the ranks. I also believe that if you are in the position where you are not getting recognized for your contribution, you need to assess and consider other options.”

Biggest challenge of the past year:

“Going from leading one brand at Deckers to leading three: Teva, Hoka One One and Sanuk. It has been challenging and also extremely rewarding, and I am super happy with the teams I’ve built, the leadership I’ve put in place and feel that all three of the brands are poised for future growth. I also think rebuilding the Hoka team this past year was a special challenge because there was an old-school mentality ingrained in the team. However, rebuilding the Hoka organization into a high-performing team [aimed at] rewriting the running playbook has been one of the highlights of my career.”

Advice for my younger self:

I would give myself the same advice I give to my 3 daughters: You are strong, you have much to offer and you don’t need to take a back seat. Stand up for yourself and stand up for what you believe in. And surround yourself with others who also want to create and be a part of a strong, collaborative trust.

Maggie Winkel

GM of Teva

Breakthrough career moment:

“Launching the Superlow line of women’s jeans during my time at Levi’s. It was the first line of jeanswear designed first and only for women and not just an interpretation of the men’s products. The line was also featured in the first women’s-focused TV and marketing campaign for the Levi’s brand in over 10 years, featuring actual, real women and not drawings or other representations.”

What I would have done differently:

“I would have tried to create more opportunities to have fun while working. When I was young, I was very focused on delivering results and not focused enough on getting to know my colleagues by sharing a laugh or having an occasional afternoon meeting over beers. I believe now that I was actually less productive by not doing so and now that I have made that a part of my work style, I believe it has helped me be more successful in my career.”

Women supporting women:

“I think women have gotten much better at supporting each other in the workplace. When I first started my career, there was definitely a mentality that your fellow women were your competition, as there were so few women in upper management. Maybe I was naïve, but it did not dawn on me to think that way. Now women of my generation have figured out that we are much stronger when we lift each other up.”

Biggest challenge of the past year:

“Taking a new job with a new company, which meant leading a new team through that transition. When approaching this [type of] challenge, I work hard to first identify what is working well and build upon that — there is no need to “reinvent the wheel” for efficiency’s sake. And more importantly, it creates less of a disruption for the team. I have also learned that it is critical to lead change at the speed of your team; it’s OK if they feel a bit uncomfortable, but no one should feel overwhelmed.”

Advice for my younger self:

“Believe in yourself! I know it sounds cliché, but clichés exist for a reason. Don’t worry about what others think of you or let their opinions influence you. I used to worry about that so much when I was younger and because of it, I didn’t take as many risks or challenge how things were being done when I saw a better way.”