Hall of Fame Honoree Diane Sullivan Fielded New Job Offers at the FN Achievement Awards

Longtime footwear executive Diane Sullivan capped off an illustrious career at the FN Achievement Awards on Nov. 30, when she was inducted into the FN Hall of Fame. (The chairman and CEO of Caleres announced earlier this year that she’ll step down from the CEO role at the start of 2023 to become executive chairman.)

But some people aren’t convinced that Sullivan is ready to hang it up.

“I don’t think she’s going to retire. She can’t sit still,” said hip-hop icon Nelly, who presented the FNAA honor to Sullivan at the event.

Meanwhile, a fellow FNAA honoree, Skechers USA Inc. president Michael Greenberg, had an enticing offer for her: “Congratulations on your new position at Skechers. You start next Monday,” he said while accepting his own Company of the Year award.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 30: (L-R) Fergie, Diane Sullivan, Nelly attend the 2022 Footwear News Achievement Awards at Cipriani South Street on November 30, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Footwear News via Getty Images)
A power trio: Fergie, Diane Sullivan and Nelly at the 2022 FNAAs
CREDIT: Footwear News via Getty Images

For her part, Sullivan was full of gratitude for her nearly two decades at Caleres. “I can tell you I’m the happiest when I’m with my teams, when I’m on the floor and looking at shoes and we’re talking about how to grow business,” she said. “It never felt like work. It always felt like it was the place that I was supposed to be.”

Sullivan confessed, though, that her career in footwear was an unexpected surprise. “I came out of consumer products, and not everybody thought that was a great idea at the time,” she recalled. “I ran M&Ms and Snickers bars, and somehow I ended up in the fashion and footwear industry. And I just loved everything. I loved every minute of it.”

The executive, who most recently led the St. Louis-based firm to its best-ever Q1 performance, has been CEO since 2011. She joined the company, then Brown Shoe Co., in 2004 as president and was quickly elevated to COO a few years later. Sullivan, who has nabbed FN’s Person of the Year award multiple times, also has been a champion for board gender quality, achieving parity at Caleres.

For 36 years, the annual FN Achievement Awards — often called the “Shoe Oscars” — have celebrated the style stars, best brand stories, ardent philanthropists, emerging talents and industry veterans. The 2022 event is supported by presenting sponsor Nordstrom, as well as Caleres, FDRA, Merrell, Vibram and Volumental.

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