How This Longtime Neiman Marcus Exec Went From Intern to GMM

Every day in June, FN is featuring women across the industry for our women in power series.

Melissa Lowenkron, the GMM of accessories at Neiman Marcus, talks about leadership in challenging times, the importance of strong mentors and her commitment to helping the next generation.

Biggest career accomplishment:

“Working for The Neiman Marcus Group for [more than] 20 years. I started working here as a high school intern, completed the executive development program and became an assistant buyer immediately upon graduating from college. I held many different jobs, with increasing responsibility, before becoming a GMM at Bergdorf Goodman and now Neiman Marcus. I am happy to have had the opportunity to have a fulfilling and exciting career in a company that I love.”

Supporting the next generation:

“I have been fortunate to have a number of people take an interest in me and my career over the years. I believe that it is important to provide the next generation with the same support. I always make myself available to meet with people who are in high school, college, or aspiring to get into the fashion industry. I am also approached by people who have already started their career but are looking for advice on how to prepare for the job they want to have in the future. I’m honest and transparent about what I think I have done well in my career and what I wish I would have done differently.”

Powerful leadership moment:

“I have many memories of when Karen Katz, our former president and CEO of Neiman Marcus Group, inspired me through her leadership. One instance that I think about often happened around the summer of 2010. I had just been promoted from buyer to assistant store manager and was getting ready to move from Dallas to Chicago. Before I left, Karen spoke with the entire buying team to discuss the state of the business. Her message was about perseverance and diligence — and that in the end, we learn more and become better businesspeople during difficult business cycles. I remember going home that night thinking that maybe I should turn down the promotion and stay in my current position so I [wouldn’t] miss the opportunity to become a better merchant during the tough business cycle. In the end, I did accept the assistant store manager position, but Karen’s words were so impactful that they gave me pause and had me reassess whether I was making the right decision. I have always aspired to be as inspiring and as genuine a leader as Karen is.”

Best decision I’ve ever made:

“The best decision I ever made was to move to New York to become a GMM at Bergdorf Goodman. I worked for Josh Schulman when he was president, which was an incredible experience. Josh was an amazing boss, who reignited a curiosity and innovative spirit in me that I both needed at the time and served me well throughout my career. He empowered me to take risks in evolving Bergdorf Goodman’s men’s store, which resulted in changes that I am still proud of. Working at Bergdorf Goodman also gave me the opportunity to work with other incredibly talented and inspiring people, like Linda Fargo and Bruce Pask, both of whom I learned a lot from. I was fortunate during the course of four-and-a-half years at Bergdorf Goodman to take on additional responsibility every year until, ultimately I was GMM for all categories. For the last year and a half that I was there, we were in an interim period without a president. This gave me the opportunity to have an expanded leadership role within the organization, which was a valuable and rewarding experience for me.”

Worst decision:

“Not realizing earlier in my career how important it is to find balance in life.”

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