Last year, the Munich-based online fashion retailer Mytheresa expanded its management team from two to five people.
Among these newly appointed leaders is Isabel May, chief customer experience officer & managing director at Mytheresa, and the only woman on the leadership team. As part of the new series "Women in Leadership Positions", FashionUnited spoke with May about her career, her advice for young women and the importance of women supporting women.
Please could you describe your career in your own words?
My goal has always been to do marketing for luxury products and I put all my energy into achieving that goal. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to learn from great leaders and work with passionate people on projects that challenged me and helped me advance. The decision to work at Mytheresa was certainly one of the most important decisions pof my career.
What advice would you give your younger self in her 20s regarding her career?
Be passionate about what you do. Identify opportunities in a company and take responsibility for these issues; build a trusting, strong team and work hard; be collegial and respectful with everyone you meet. Friendliness is not a weakness, it is a strength that will help you moving forward. And the most important thing: choose the job with the best leader - it's crucial to have a mentor.
Do you see yourself as a mentor for other women? How do you encourage them?
I like to encourage and challenge people who want to learn and advance their career. I see myself as a sparring partner, I always have an open door and I am happy when team members set concrete goals and I can support them in achieving them. It is important, if you would like to advance your career, to express it and point out topics that you would like to take on as yours. Of course I also try to support women, because, from my perspective, it is still not very common, especially among women, to stand up for each other.
Which qualities have particularly qualified you for your current position?
Passion, experience, discipline, speed, sense for the customer as well as the aesthetics; enthusiasm and team spirit.
What challenges has 2020 held for you?
Personally, the main change so far has been the fact that for the first time in over 20 years I didn't travel for a period of three months and suddenly had more time with my family. I got to know the benefits of working from home and noticed how efficient it is and also what I was missing. Professionally, it has led us to focus even more on the customer and to think about how we can create better experiences, even if they are digital.
What are customers currently looking for at Mytheresa? Are there any particular trends or changes that can be identified?
Timelessness is a big issue, products that can be worn longer. The big luxury brands are our business and value is crucial. Of course, some purchases are usually triggered by events: weddings, parties, dinners and holidays are less important at the moment - depending on which country you live in.
Do you think that women have a different management style than men? How do they differ?
I believe that everyone has a different, individual style of leadership and I personally think that is good and important.
Does Mytheresa provide explicit support for women? What does this look like?
We have a very high percentage of women and accordingly we have a high double-digit percentage of women in management positions.
Mytheresa is a luxury online retailer based in Munich. For more than 30 years, the Mytheresa women's boutique in Munich has been a luxury shopping destination. In June 2020 a store for men's fashion was added to the portfolio.
As a pioneer in e-commerce, the company expanded its customer base in 2006 by introducing e-commerce. Today, over 700 employees work at Mytheresa, where 250 fashion brands are delivered to more than 140 countries around the world. In the fiscal year 2019, Mytheresa achieved an annual turnover of 377 million euros.
In the upcoming months, a series of interviews with women in leadership positions will be published here.
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Picture: courtesy of Mytheresa