Women to Watch at the 2018 Women In Retail Leadership Summit

2018 is shaping up to be the year of the woman. From the sweeping changes spurred by the #MeToo movement to the record number of women running for office, women are taking on some of our nation’s biggest issues. And so it should come as no surprise that in the retail industry, it’s no different.

Many of retail’s most powerful women are gathering in Miami from April 16-18 for the 2018 Women in Retail Leadership Summit, which is produced annually by The Women in Retail Leadership Circle. The Summit is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for enterprise retail women in leadership to connect with their peers and build an empowering and supportive network of peers.

This female-focused conference is designed to empower executives in their retail careers and provide a forum to have meaningful conversations on the industry’s biggest challenges, specifically those that women face. Summit sessions will cover the latest trends and technologies in the retail space, provide ample doses of inspiration from successful women retail leaders, and discuss how to build the retail leadership career you want.

In our rush to excel at work and at home, career development is often just one more thing on the to-do list that tends to get deprioritized.

It promises to be an information-packed few days, but we know you’ll want to make some time to put those sandals and resort wear to use on The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne’s exclusive five-mile barrier island beaches. With that in mind, we’ve identified a few key themes to focus in on over the Summit’s three days:

Get inspired by strong female leaders

Despite holding half of all American professional-level jobs, women still only make 14.6% of the executive-level workforce and only 4.6% of Fortune 500’s CEO jobs. One way to change all that is by inspiring more women to pursue these kinds of careers, and to support them in their journey to the C-Suite by sharing the lessons learned by other women who have found success in retail leadership.

In this vein, the Summit is providing a platform for three women CEOs (who all come from very different backgrounds) the opportunity to inspire the next generation of women in retail leadership:

  • Joining J.Jill in 2008 and becoming CEO in 2009, Paula Bennett took the brand public in an IPO last March. She’ll give us the scoop on what the first year of life at J.Jill has been like post-IPO, and how she’s navigated through a diverse retail management career that’s included bricks and mortar, online, and direct retail responsibilities.
  • Like many of us, Rocksbox CEO Meaghan Rose knows what it’s like to battle imposter syndrome. She’ll share her personal journey to becoming CEO, including how she to built up her confidence, fought imposter syndrome, and developed a strong sense of self to eventually own her own power.
  • Kara Goldin’s story is one many women can relate to. She left her high-powered e-commerce leadership role at AOL in 2001 to start a family. Three years and three kids later, with a 10-can per day Diet Coke habit, Kara knew something had to give. Now CEO of hint inc., Kara will share how she turned her personal quest for recapturing her wellness into a thriving business.

In addition to showcasing the personal journeys of these inspirational retail leaders, the Summit has brought together three retail executives at the top of their game for a no-holds-barred conversation on what it really takes as a woman to build a successful retail leadership career. Don’t miss this opportunity to contribute to a frank conversation on the issues executive women struggle with and hard-won insights into how to overcome them.

Add these sessions to your calendar and hear how some of retail’s most accomplished women leaders got to where they are today:

  • Monday 1:30 p.m. The Personal Journey of Paula Bennett
  • Tuesday 4:20 p.m. Finding Your Voice: The Personal Journey of Meghan Rose, Founder and CEO, Rocksbox
  • Tuesday 5:05 p.m. Leadership Panel: Free-wheeling, Frank, Funny, and Fabulous!
  • Wednesday 9:20 a.m. The Personal Journey of Kara Goldin

Navigate the evolving retail landscape

It can feel like a full-time job trying to stay on top of the ever-changing retail landscape. From finding opportunities to innovate to strategic brainstorming around your biggest organizational issues, this year’s Summit will provide several opportunities to learn new strategies that can help you transform your organization:

  • Every retail experience has some white space—those areas where customer needs aren’t quite being met. The good news is, this can be an opportunity to innovate rather than a cause for concern. We’re anticipating a lively discussion on how to fill the gaps in the customer journey from an all-star panel that includes leaders from Glossier, Timberland PRO, ALEX AND ANI, GPShopper.
  • Customer loyalty, experiential marketing, and data optimization are just a few of the big retail trends that get a strategy deep-dive on the final day of the Summit. You’ll have the opportunity to pick the topic that are most relevant for you, and participate in a presentation by an industry expert or expert panel, then meet with other attendees to discuss ideas and possible solutions for the specific business issues brought to light.
  • The Summit closes out with an e-commerce and retail data update from Forrester Research VP and Principal Analyst Sucharita Mulpuru. Unlike other analyst presentations, Sucharita will present the firm’s latest research through the eye of a former industry insider—she formerly managed Saks Fifth Avenue’s customer acquisition, retention, and market research for their online channel (and participated in our Narvar Summit!).

Customer loyalty, experiential marketing, and data optimization are just a few of the big retail trends that get a strategy deep-dive on the final day of the Summit.

To hear focused discussions of industry trends you should stay on top of, be sure to attend these sessions:

  • Monday 2:25 p.m. Finding the White Space … And Running With It
  • Wednesday 12:05 p.m. WIRL Think Tanks
  • Wednesday 1:05 p.m. Sucharita Mulpuru, VP, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research

Level Up Your Career

When was the last time you invested in building your career? In our rush to excel at work and at home, career development is often just one more thing on the to-do list that tends to get deprioritized. Of course, attending the Summit itself is an investment in your career. In addition, there are a few sessions that aim to help put your career growth front and center:

  • Has your career followed an intentional path, or is it something that’s simply happened to you? While it may not be realistic to draft a five-year plan for your career, there is a lot to be said for mapping out your goals and working toward them. Julie Lyle, Interim CMO at Barnes & Noble, will share why you should develop a business plan for your career, and offer tips on how to get started.
  • With the fast pace of retail technology change, it can be hard to feel confident in budgeting for and implementing new solutions. Where can you find the time to stay informed of the latest and greatest innovations in the midst of your already packed workday? How do you build the skills you need to adopt those technologies once they’re deployed in your organization? A panel of retail technology pros from Best Buy, Chico’s, L.L. Bean, American Eagle Outfitters, and J.Jill will address these issues and more using their real-life examples.
  • We all have that one big professional development goal we can’t ever seem to make enough time for, whether it’s earning a seat on a corporate board, overcoming burnout, improving team morale, or defining our personal brand. During the Success Circles table topics, attendees pick the topic that most resonates and break out into small group conversations mentored by an experienced industry leader.

Make a point of attending these career development sessions and start making your career growth a priority:

  • Monday 6:05 p.m. Investing in You, Inc.—Why It’s Important to Create a Business Plan For Your Career.
  • Tuesday 11:20 a.m. Managing Innovation—How to Stay on Course and Be Prepared for the Future at the Same Time.
  • Tuesday 2:10 p.m. Success Circles.

Let’s Connect!

We’re excited to be part of this year’s Women in Retail Leadership Summit. If you’re attending, we’d love the opportunity to talk with you about how to delight customers in an increasingly complex omnichannel retail environment. Schedule a meeting with one of our customer experience experts to see how we can partner to improve your post-purchase journey and inspire more loyalty.


More women in retail:

5 Badass Women In Retail (and Why We Love Them)

Celebrating Women in Retail Leadership

Janie Yu of Fung Capital: Investing in the Future of Retail (video)

Jenny Lefcourt of Freestyle Capital (video)