Shop.org, NRF’s digital division, has an awesome reoccurring segment on their blog called “Talking With…” In this series, influential people in e-commerce are interviewed and share insights on a variety of things such as how their companies connect with customers, their thoughts on the future of the industry, where they get their inspiration, and much more.
This week, “Talking With…” features Terry Lundgren, who started his career as a trainee with Bullock’s department stores in 1975, and is now the President and CEO of Macy’s, one of the best known retailers in the world.
Below is a section of the interview that I wanted to share with NRF Foundation’s Retail Careers Community, as it highlights how Mr. Lundgren got his start in retail, why he thinks it is important to listen to young associates, and what he loves about the industry. You can read the full interview on the Shop.org blog.
When you received the Gold Medal Award at NRF’s Annual Convention several years ago, you talked about the importance of cultivating young professionals within the Macy’s organization and said you meet with a select group of young talent on a regular basis. What have you learned from those meetings and have you made any changes because of them?
I learn a lot each time I meet with a group of associates who are early in their careers with Macy’s. I work hard to devote at least 30 minutes a week to them, and it is among the most rewarding things I do. These individuals are brimming with good ideas and insights we can apply to our business, and we do take action on them. For example, the development and rollout of the BCBGeneration product for young career women, as well as the Rachel Rachel Roy launch, were directly related to a meeting of my “Breakfast Club.” The group told me we had a gap in our assortment for this younger working customer, which included our own trainees and assistant buyers, and we moved very quickly to fill it.
You’ve spent more than 30 years in retail. What do you like most about this industry?
The constant change. You can’t stand still in retailing. You must always be innovating and pushing the envelope. The competitive landscape is always changing. The customer is always changing and evolving, and so must we. I like being challenged in this way. I just love this business. It’s a privilege to come to work every day and do something I absolutely love to do, even in this very difficult economic environment. We get our performance review every day at the cash register. I love the challenge because I know our strategy and our organization structure is right and we have the talent to win.
Tell me something that’s especially vivid from your first days at the company.
I was recruited to Bullock’s in Los Angeles as I was graduating college at the University of Arizona. I had several other job offers, but what struck me about Bullock’s was the unbelievably talented people I met in the interview process and potentially would be working with and for. That’s what attracted me to retailing and what has kept me in this industry.
Retailing thrives on smart, aggressive, fast-moving people who know how to spot and capitalize on opportunity. You are responsible for your own P&L statement early in your career as a buyer or a store manager. I am very proud of the fact that Macy’s, Inc. is known for having the very best training programs, which in turn has attracted the best people in retailing.
Read the full interview on the Shop.org blog.