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News & Events

Student Story: Words of Wisdom from a Retail Executive

Retail Leadership Symposium (Consumer Science 250)

On Wednesday November 8th, the Retail Leadership Symposium had the incredible opportunity to hear from an incredibly distinguished School of Human Ecology alumna and 100 Women honoree, Lorna Nagler (Retailing, ’78). Ms. Nagler has been the President of Lane Bryant and Bealls Department Stores, as well as CEO of Christopher and Banks. She now serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Ulta Beauty and is enjoying retirement in Florida.

Lorna Nagler with StudentsBecause of her incredible resume, Lorna Nagler learned a multitude of lessons about leadership that she shared with us in an interactive presentation. Here are some of her our takeaways:

  • Good leaders are driven.They are driven by the people they are working for, the people they are working with, the company they are working for, etc.
  • Your gut tells you what is right. Follow it when making decisions.
  • Don’t fall for brand names. When Lorna was just getting ready to graduate, she turned down a job at a big name corporation to work for a much less known company. To this day, she still thinks it was one of her best career choices she could’ve made.
  • You’re going to be really sorry if you ever take a job because of the money. If you find something that you are really passionate about, the money will end up coming.
  • Confidence is key. Being able to speak out and express your ideas is essential in the retail world.
  • Asking for help is not a bad thing. Asking questions is often encouraged in the retail world. It is always better to say “I do not know” and seek help, than to make a decision without the correct information.
  • Retail is an ever changing industry. It is important to consider new perspectives because they often give birth to new ideas
  • Always be aware of how you show up. What is your attitude like? Do you seem interested or disengaged? What are you wearing? Are you passionate about your work?Do you seem driven? Do you want to succeed?
  • Have a bias for action. It’s ok if you make mistakes because you’re learning.
  • Strong mentors are an important in developing your career. Whether you have a strict boss, an influential family member, or a professor who pushes your academic limits, leverage the relationships in your life to your advantage.

As you can see, Ms. Nagler discussed many aspects of her personal career, the retail industry, formative experiences, and professional advice with the class.  It’s clear that one driving factor of success is leadership.  As she explained, leadership looks different on everyone.  People have many different styles of leadership, but some of the overarching characteristics of a good leader are – motivation, confidence, flexibility, good communication skills, and an open mind, receptive to new ideas. We look forward to testing out these lessons as future leaders of the retail industry!

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