HR: Rising Stars in a Talent-Starved Industry

An industry bereft of talent? Not quite, though that is certainly the popular perception.

  • David McCreight, president at Lands' End. He started as a Saks Fifth Avenue buyer, worked at the former Thalhimer's chain, ran women's tops for Limited Stores, served as president of Smith & Hawkins and as a head merchant at Disney Stores. He's described as product-oriented and focused on brand image and positioning but balanced in understanding how to drive a business and run the numbers.
  • Others who sources cited as ceo candidates are Eric Wisemen, president and chief operating officer of VF Corp. and heir apparent to ceo Mackey McDonald, and John Goodman, president of Dockers U.S., who executed a quick turnaround of the brand and has multi-channel experience. Some say Eugenia Ulasewicz, president of Burberry USA, who has held top retail and wholesale jobs, could move up. After serving as Saks Fifth Avenue's Midwest region, she followed ex-Saks president Rose Marie Bravo to Burberry, but with Bravo relinquishing the ceo role to Angela Ahrendts, it could be the moment for Ulasewicz to make a move.

  • Merchants to watch include:

    • Loretta Soffe, Nordstrom's executive vice president and general merchandise manager for all women's, excluding designer. Soffe has been revamping the business to get a better balance in career, which has been less robust than casual and contemporary. She might be tough to recruit since she's been at Nordstrom for 22 years. "She's personable, smart, has a strategic mind and is opened-minded," said one source.
    • Tracy Gardner, executive vice president of merchandising, planning and production at J. Crew, has a strong track record of results and could one day run a division of a large corporation.
    • Robert Aldrich, executive vice president of wholesale, Zegna, and former president of John Varvatos, is strategic, knows product and is a standout in luxury men's wear.
    • Rob Smith, executive vice president and general merchandise manager at Macy's East, has his fingers on the pulse of the teen market, helping to push Macy's in a more youthful destination.
    • Jack Boyle, Kohl's senior vice president and divisional merchandise manager for women's, has been getting more responsibility and is considered young, energetic and good at executing a strategy.
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