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Women in Power: Balmain President Emily George On the Importance of Finding a Support System

As part of FN’s annual Women in Power issue, we asked 15 footwear execs who have stepped into prominent new roles this year to talk about overcoming obstacles and their advice for the next generation.

Emily George joined Balmain as president of the Americas in January after an almost 20-year career at Marc Jacobs International where she most recently served as the SVP of Americas, retail and wholesale.

Here, she discusses challenges in her new role and career advice for women just starting out.

My leadership mantra:

“To lead through collaboration, communication, empathy and support. I have always believed in creating a collaborative environment where every team member, regardless of their title, feels they have a voice at the table.”

The biggest challenge in my new role:

“Learning a new brand and a new way of working after being at the same company for 19 years, and to gain the
trust of my team. It’s very normal for a team to feel apprehensive when someone new is coming in and their trust in my leadership and vision is key to our success. The challenges are also the biggest opportunities … learning and growing with an incredible brand.”

The most significant career barrier I’ve faced and how I overcame it:

“I have been my own barrier. Unfortunately, women often find it challenging to stand up for ourselves and fight for what we believe we deserve in terms of growth and compensation. This is an internal struggle in many of us, and I have worked hard, with the support of some incredible women, to push through my own barriers and trust my voice.”

Advice for women starting out in their careers:

“The advice I always give to young women starting out is to believe in their voice and their value, and to work hard in their current positions while taking on new opportunities that lead them along their chosen career path. Be open to feedback and listen to the colleagues and peers they trust — they will help you grow and become a strong and compassionate leader. Never be afraid to ask questions and to admit when you do not know the answer. Sometimes women can be perceived as being too soft, but if we are firm, then we are too strong. Finding the balance is not easy, but it starts in believing in who you are and truly listening to those around you. Surround yourself with other women who share your values. It’s that support system that will help guide you through tough times and celebrate with you along the road of success.”

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