In Person: Frank Talk From Journeys Crew

The people who have worked with Jim Estepa for years know him best. Here, a few colleagues weigh in on the leader’s vision and commitment to the team.

Bob Dennis
Chairman, president & CEO, Genesco Inc.
Years of service:
“Jim is a very strong leader. Journeys defines him, and he defines Journeys. He’s added to the brand’s success and its iconic place in the footwear space. The important thing about Jim and Journeys is how much it continues to evolve. Journeys as a brand keeps rolling and changing to the needs of the teenager today. Jim is always looking forward and to what’s next. He keeps the concept fresh.”

Mario Gallione
Chief merchandising officer, Journeys Group
Years of service:
“I don’t know what the consummate CEO looks like, but I do know that Jim is a passionate leader. He has as much energy now as when he first started. He’s always thinking, he’s always present and is looking for new ideas and opportunities. That makes him a great leader. One of his best attributes is he just loves the retail business and is a student of retail. He’s constantly trying to learn and educate himself, and bring it back to us.”

Mike Sypert
SVP of sales
Years of service:
“Jim is focused, determined, passionate and results driven. He always has an idea and vision, and he asks for input and is very collaborative. He values our opinions. I’m fortunate to work for Jim. I may work for the company, but more importantly, I work for Jim. And he’s the kind of guy who inspires that in his employees.”

David Wright
Regional VP
Years of service:
“Jim always had a vision of what Journeys could be. He knew where it was going and saw it as a billion-dollar company first. He has great vision and knows the importance of having good people [to execute it]. He’s very fatherly in that he holds us accountable but is genuinely concerned with our lives and well-being. He’s always persuading us to grow.”

Pete Hicks
SVP of analytics, distribution & customer service
Years of service:
“Jim’s not scared of hard work. He always has an open-door, hands-on policy. People know they can go to him. It’s impacted how we interact with our teams, too — we have open-door policies and try to listen to every idea.”

Kari Irons
SVP of marketing
Years of service:
“Jim is a very engaged, loyal, energetic, passionate and collaborative leader who has the rare ability to communicate a clear vision of where our company is going while inspiring people along the way. Above all, he treats everyone like family, which is one of our core values. Every single day, Jim goes out of his way to acknowledge someone’s birthday or anniversary with the company. It sounds like a little thing, but when you run a billion-dollar company and make time daily to celebrate people’s personal milestones, it shows great respect and humility.”

John Tighe
SVP of direct to consumer
Years of service:
“Several years ago, during one of the Journeys Backyard BBQ tour stops, he and I were alone briefly in the Journeys employee area. I asked him, ‘Do you ever take the time to stop and appreciate what you’ve built?’ He replied, ‘Only every once in a while. You know, you get so caught up in the day-to-day running of the business and worrying about what comes next, I don’t do it enough.’ I hope Jim gets the opportunity to reflect on that one day and has a sense of how much what he built means to us, the employees.”

Jesse Dimas
Regional VP
Years of service:
“I’ve been with Genesco half my life. When Jim came to the store back then, he didn’t judge any of us. We had the black nail polish and hair, and were listening to rock ’n’ roll. But Jim saw we could take it to the next level. He understood who we were and are, and took the time to teach us about the business. You want to be part of his team and you don’t want to let him down — that is what he inspires in you.”

Mary Bentley
VP & GMM of women’s fashion
Years of service:
“My career with Jim began 22 years ago, when I was a part-time sales associate in a Journeys store. Jim has intense passion for the Journeys organization and its long-term success. He is a leader who is not only confident in his role but places the same trust and confidence in the Journeys Group leadership teams. By empowering each and every person, Jim has created an organization that has prospered for more than 25 years — and will for many more to come.”

Rebecca Bowman
SVP of employee development
Years of service:
“Jim’s leadership is characterized by three things: that he’s a visionary, is incredibly focused on people and on building the Journeys culture. He is always guiding and helping teams to collaborate to reach the best decision for the business. He is always making sure people are on the same page with big decisions, so when we go to execute there aren’t questions. In the office, he’s so collaborative and very transparent. My office is two doors down, and if he needs something he always pops in. Jim’s passion for the business is contagious not just at Journeys but also across the Genesco organization.”

Colin Temple
Managing director, Schuh
Years of service:
“Since being acquired, I’ve seen how much Jim wants to learn from how we do business here and share with us some ways they do business there. He is really engaged with us.”

Rob Taylor
COO, Journeys Group
Years of service:
“Jim has been a great mentor, leader and friend. We started on the fitting stools in stores and have worked together ever since. Journeys has been his life’s work, where he’s grown the business and created value serving his customers and employees. Journeys is all about the team and the family and the values, and Jim’s supported that the whole time.”

Jim Mueller
Years of Service:
“Jim wants to be engaged in all the facets of the business. He’s focused and results driven, but he really cares about his people and is great to work with because he strives to be so engaged with everyone. He’s a hard worker and always sets a great example.”

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