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Kristina Blahnik Has Worked With Her Legendary Uncle for a Decade: Here’s What She’s Learned as CEO

Each day in June, FN is highlighting female leaders from across the industry.

Its been 10 years since former architect Kristina Blahnik joined her legendary uncle’s footwear business. Here, she talks about what she’s learned as CEO and talks about powerful leadership moments.

What have been the biggest tipping points in your career?

“One of the most defining moments was actually at the start of my CEO role with the Manolo Blahnik Liberty Pop up shop.  It opened during “Fashion’s Big Night Out” in London 2010.  It was the most extraordinary time.   I met with the Liberty team over lunch to discuss designing a print for them and the idea sensationally developed into a pop-up shop and Manolo Blahnik store with a range of products, which follow the established and successful Liberty Hermés venture. With a tiny team operating out of Old Church Street in London, I needed to oversee every aspect of this project — from negotiating contracts, the communications plan, product development with Manolo and of course the store design.  It was a huge learning curve in an intensely short time frame.”

What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?

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“It’s important to have an understanding of individuality coupled with a strong value system. In other words, to nurture and develop personal conviction and confidence and to build a strong sense of emotional intelligence.

What is a powerful leadership moment you’ve experienced? 

“Listening and Vulnerability. By developing active listening, you are giving your teams the space and opportunity to express themselves. In addition to this, in terms of personal and professional development I recently implemented a “360 development review” with my senior leadership team and the learning experience from this was extremely powerful.  It led me to be brave enough to ask the questions that make me the most vulnerable.”

What advice do you have for women negotiating a salary increase, promotion or other challenging issue at work?

“Never undervalue yourself. But do this with a sense of modesty and fairness.  It won’t help if you enter a room with a sense of entitlement. Instead, I would encourage a degree of humbleness for a positive starting point.”

What is the best decision you’ve ever made? The worst?

“I have no regrets. And the best decision was joining the business 10 years ago, which has given me a strong sense of purpose.”

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