Sue Dooley, SVP global marketing, The Rockport Group, knows what it means to come up against the corporate establishment on a series of fronts. As a gay woman, she’s gracefully met them due to the encouragement of her friend and business associate Bob Infantino, who’s encouraged Dooley to be herself both professionally and personally. Here, Dooley shares the challenges and decisions she’s made on her career journey.
What was the biggest breakthrough moment in your career?
It was in 1997 when my boss then and is today, Bob Infantino, encouraged me to come out. At that point in time, I wasn’t an openly gay woman. He thought it would be the best thing for me to be myself. It allowed me to be [who] I was without any false airs about what I was doing that weekend or evening or with whom. It allowed me to have a more open and personal relationship with the people I worked with. I’ve never looked back.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
Sometimes I look back and regret to some degree not working with Bob Infantino longer. I left Clarks after working with him for five years, then came back then [joined him] 15 years later at Drydock Footwear Group with more diverse experience. [In between], I headed up marketing at Saucony and Sperry, etc. Those jobs all made me a better contributor to The Rockport Group. Bob’s been 100 percent behind me, and I appreciate that to the end of the earth.
Do you think women do enough to support other women in the workplace?
I think we could do more. People are so concerned with their personal well-being and the limited opportunities [for] women that they look out for themselves versus the greater good. It’s competitive, and I do everything in my power to downplay this in our organization and within my marketing team.
What is the biggest challenge you faced in the past year, and how did you overcome it?
It’s been integrating Drydock Footwear Group and Rockport. They are two very disparate cultures, and [we’re working] to bring them together to cultivate an environment we all want it to be. It’s been a struggle, and we’re not there yet.
Looking back, is there any advice you would give to your younger self?
Be yourself, work hard and be kind to others. There’s only one of you in this world. To me, there’s been a little slippage in today’s work ethic [on the part of employees]. Generally speaking, their expectations of achievement are there, but not necessarily [realizing] the time and effort [involved].