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John Shanley was known by many as a brilliant footwear analyst, but the determination that built his career also extended into every aspect of his personal life.
Colleagues, friends and family members remember Shanley, who passed away in February after a four-year battle with cancer, for his tireless energy and zest for life.
The analyst, a native of Long Island, N.Y., who received his M.B.A. from New York University, began his decades-long career in the retail sector at J.C. Penney Co., and a few years later, moved to Allied Stores Corp. (now Macy’s Inc.) to take a position in research and strategic planning. He then accepted a similar title at F.W. Woolworth Co. (now Foot Locker Inc.), a post he held until the mid-1990s.
Shanley made the transition to equity research in 1996, taking on a role at JW Genesis Capital Markets.
He next worked at Van Kasper & Co., which eventually became Wells Fargo Securities, before joining Susquehanna Financial Group in 2004 as senior equity research analyst covering the athletic and footwear industries.
Christopher Svezia, who worked with Shanley for a combined seven years at Wells Fargo and Susquehanna, lauded Shanley’s attention to detail and innate understanding of the footwear business.
“John loved to work. It was his passion, his life,” said Svezia, noting that Shanley was a strong mentor to him during his first years on the job. “He was a great marketer because his knowledge was so deep. Clients would be bedazzled by him.”
“The things he knew were mind boggling,” said Shanley’s wife, Pat Shanley. For example, he could rattle off any given store’s square footage and what that store earned, she said. She added that he also had “an incredible ability to relate to any age group,” which helped him understand why people would buy certain shoes.
“We frequently did [retail store] channel checks together,” said Pat, noting that her husband often spent 45 minutes or more talking to store managers. “When we got married, we went on our honeymoon and we landed in Milan — the very first stop was a Foot Locker store.”
That dedication helped the analyst earn immense respect from his clients.
Daniel Schwarzwalder, senior managing director at Buckingham Capital Management, called the analyst “the dean of the footwear industry.”
Elliott Elbaz, managing director at FBR Capital Markets, also remembered Shanley’s penchant for sharing knowledge. “He was an animal, in the best way. You could get him going. You would ask John what time it was and he would tell you how the clock was made,” recalled Elbaz, who worked with Shanley at Van Kasper. “He would be so engrossed in footwear.”