6 Female Leaders From Aldo Share Their Great Triumphs & Toughest Career Lessons

Every day in June, FN is showcasing female leaders across the industry for our Women in Power series.

In addition to being the title sponsor of Two Ten’s WIFI (Women in the Footwear Industry) program, global fashion company Aldo Group, based in Montreal, is striving for equality within its own organization.

Here, six women from the company share their experiences and how they’re contributing to the cause.

Valérie Martin
VP of communications, culture and CSR
As a 23-year veteran of Aldo Group, Martin was part of the team that helped to define the company’s corporate purpose: “a journey to create a world of love, confidence and belonging.” She told FN, “What a wonderful experience that was. Now my role at Aldo is to embed this purpose into everything we do, and my team is so motivated and driven by this goal.” Some of those efforts include becoming the first carbon-neutral fashion footwear firm, implementing progressive work/life guidelines and forging aspirations around female leadership. “Today, over 50% of our directors and 40% of our vice presidents are female. Our goal is to improve gender balance at the senior director and executive level,” Martin said.

Daianara Grullon Amalfitano
SVP of the Aldo brand
Amalfitano lives and breathes style. “I always perceived fashion as an art, a true way to express myself,” she said. But early on, her sartorial knack created career challenges. “I was dealing with men who weren’t used to working with females. Imagine their reaction seeing this young woman in her early 20s, with colored hair, wearing platforms and miniskirts. When they would meet me for the first time, some of them definitely discounted me,” Amalfitano said. In time, she gained the respect of those men through her passion and abilities — and with help. “I was fortunate to have the support of a great mentor who taught me I should never apologize for who I am and how I look. This is a lesson I have taught my teams ever since,” she said.

Jennifer Maks
SVP of omnichannel
In her career, Maks has learned to manage her personal expectations and reassess priorities over time. “I expect a lot from myself, and my focus has always been on maximizing every opportunity. But as soon as I became a working mother (I have 5-year-old twins), I realized that this would no longer be possible,” she said. Maks applies that same sense of balance to management as she helps her team outline their own goals. “Their development plans are a mix of hard skills they want to acquire, transferable leadership skills to round out their functional expertise and personal goals to ensure that what’s really important to them (family time, health, volunteering, etc.) also gets prioritized,” she said.

Geneviève Brouillette
CFO
As a French Canadian, Brouillette faced challenges early in her career development that have shaped who she is today. “I only started to speak English when I went to university,” she recalled. “By overcoming this barrier, I was able to get into the school that I wanted, and it got me out of my comfort zone. I met new people with different backgrounds, cultures and opinions than my own.” That same fearlessness later led Brouillette to take a big professional risk by joining the financial team at Kraft Foods. “It was the first time I worked for such a huge organization. I was terrified,” she said. “But I acquired new competencies and started to shape myself as the leader I wanted to become.”

Margaret Thouez
VP of Aldo buying
For Thouez, the best and worst moments of her career were one and the same. “I was leading a team of 11 incredible people through an acquisition. We were scared and uncertain of our future,” she recalled. The team completed the deal, though in the process, Thouez realized she was missing some crucial skills, so she returned to school and received a certificate in diversity and inclusion from Cornell University. “It was so important for me to learn about this and apply what I learned to my leadership style,” she said. “I encourage the women I mentor to go back to school, get certificates in a field they have an interest in so they can excel in these areas.”

Catherine Ross
General counsel and VP of human resources
“Perfect is boring.” That’s the mantra of Ross, who has been with Aldo for a decade. She noted that oftentimes, professional women impose limits on themselves out of fear of failure. “In my own experience, I’ve declined challenges or opportunities because I wasn’t an expert in that field or not 100% qualified to execute the task. We can lose sight of how fun it is to take risks,” said Ross. And today, she worries for the next generation as she watches her 15-year-old daughter, Mathilde, exhibit similar traits. “I encourage the women in my life to accept and overcome their weaknesses and to focus on their strengths,” she said. “The reality is that we can’t be good at everything.”

Watch a video from FN to see what advice top shoe plays would give their younger selves:

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