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.
Sejal Shah Miller, Converse’s chief marketing officer, has spent her career building storied brands.
The executive was previously SVP/Global GM at the Estée Lauder Companies, and held marketing leadership roles at Mattel on the Barbie brand franchise and at L’Oréal in its Luxury Division.
Here she talk about her biggest opportunities at Converse and how diversity is the key to building successful teams.
My leadership mantra:
“Authenticity is a magnet that ultimately accelerates the experience of others. The more I do it, the more others will do it too. Throughout my career, I’ve always believed strongly in the notion of authenticity as a critical pillar of good leadership. Joining a company equally known for this value has served as a guiding light for both how I want to show up with my team and how we, as a brand, want to show up in the world.”
“The biggest opportunity for me, and what I believe will be an unlock for Converse, has been reanchoring the brand in creativity — namely art, music, sport, and style — to support our mission of unleashing the creative power of youth to fuel their future. As an inclusive, accessible, and open-ended brand, we have been organically adopted over the decades by creatives, style mavens, musicians, artists, athletes, dreamers, and thinkers who saw something in the brand that allowed them to make it their own. That deep emotional connection that has existed over time, remains today. We believe our collective responsibility is to leverage the brand’s scale and reach to serve as a platform and champion of enablement for young emerging creatives – we like to call them All Stars – who are reshaping culture and sport in their vision, and for the better.
“Harnessing the legacy of a 100+ year old brand and shifting the heritage conversation that Converse often falls within to one of reinvention and personal connection. As a brand that reflects youth culture, we aim to progress at the pace of their creativity. We are deeply proud of where we’ve come from. At the same time, are eyes are focused intently on the next 100 years. We are constantly tinkering and experimenting with bringing new experiences, content, and expressions of representation that we are building a future upon and want to be known for.”
The most significant career barrier I’ve faced and how I overcame it:
“An entrenched institutional mindset. When joining a new organization or industry, I am mindful of understanding what the company and the culture are rooted in to identify the spaces and places where I can be a force for change. Connecting with a range of voices, from the brand’s historians anchored in the company’s culture to those who have recently joined often clearly charts the path forward. Coming to Converse, it has been refreshing to see how the company consistently embraces outside thinking and to know that I am surrounded by many women, particularly women of color, at the table. Having diverse leadership that reflects our consumer is a powerful asset. As an Indian American woman of immigrant parents, it’s a lens that I bring to my work every single day.”
Advice for the next generation:
“My advice to women starting out in their careers is to offer a reminder: You are more than your job and your title – do not give your career everything. You must create space for yourself, your family, and friends. And however you may define your “family,” they should get the best of you. One thing I wish someone had told me along the way: Don’t assume “They” know. You need to build your narrative. Otherwise, one will be crafted for you.”