Working at Timberland: Isabella Colombo tells about her role as a Global Product Director
If you are one of those people whose career aspirations include working within an exciting, multi-faceted role in a global company and within an international team, then the eco-conscious, lifestyle brand Timberland ticks all those boxes. The brand is part of one of the world’s leading apparel and footwear groups, US based VF Corporation, who also operates brands such as Vans, The North Face, etc., with international teams spanning a diversity of territories across EMEA, the Americas and Asia. Timberland’s merchandising division is a prime example. According to Isabella Colombo, Global Product Director for Women’s Footwear, internationality is steeped in the company’s core DNA. Isabella, herself Italian, is based in Stabio, Ticino (Switzerland), and is part of the Global Merchandising teams based in Stratham, US. As one of four product directors, she heads an international team of four – one American, two French, one English – with two based in Switzerland, in order to be closer to the women’s consumer Timberland is aiming to attract, and two in Stratham. “Working in an international team is my favourite aspect about working for Timberland, you feel part of a truly diverse family and everyone brings something different to the table. We are definitely a global team, and I love it,” she enthuses.
VF’s commitment is to move toward circular economy, designing products with the biggest care and respect for the environment, the planet and the consumer, and responsible design has become an increasingly important factor in product innovation. VF focuses on circularity starts with the ideation and design stage, building products that can be reused or recycled when their end of life is reached. As part of the company commitment to using fifty percent recycled polyester and nylon by 2025 and to find new recycling opportunities, Timberland’s Rebotl collection, for instance, uses a new fabric, to make shoes and clothes from 100% recycled plastic bottles, as well as using green rubber, recycled cottons or gold rated tanneries for its leathers. With such a focus on circular design across our products, merchandising is currently one of the biggest recruitment areas for Timberland and VF. Typically, entry into merchandising roles is as Product Line Specialist, moving to Product Manager and then to Product Category lead and so on, with good advancement prospects and career opportunities between the different territories, brands and functions. “One of the most important features of the merchandising and product roles at Timberland is the internationality of the team and the globality of the company which allows regional offices to host global product hubs. A fact that is also very appreciated by lots of team members is that they can relocate from regions to regions, allowing them to experience life and work abroad,” says Isabella.
Skills required to work in merchandising roles at Timberland include a good knowledge of trends, product and consumers mixed with great analytical skills and business acumen. Passion, willingness to succeed and to make a change in the world are also among the most important qualities Isabella looks for in candidates who want to join her team. Day to day responsibilities within merchandising roles are varied, as she explains: “We have a detailed product calendar to follow, so our typical day at work is to make sure we are ready to fulfil the job within the given deadline. We usually start with a design brief and follow the design and product development process of the collection from CADS to prototypes, making sure to hit the right design trend and consumer and the right cost / margin in order to achieve the projected revenue growth.”
Isabella says that design, marketing, merchandising, commerce and retail teams all work together closely across different geographical locations. “Global merchants are the link between the Global Product teams and the regional merchants, the marketing and the retail teams,” she adds. For Isabella, the combination of working in a challenging and yet creative setting and within an international environment is still one the biggest perks of the job – even after ten years at the company. “I’m still as excited about my career at Timberland as I was on day one. I guess this is because at Timberland we work in a very creative environment, always changing and always challenging, but honest and based on great teamwork. It’s a purpose-led and performance driven company and you feel very proud to be part of this big international family”, she says. “You really feel you can make a difference working at Timberland.”
Timberland® is part of VF Corporation. VF Corporation is one of the world’s largest apparel, footwear and accessories companies connecting people to the lifestyles, activities and experiences they cherish most through a family of iconic outdoor, active and workwear brands including Vans®, The North Face®, Kipling®, Eastpak®, Napapijri® and Dickies®. Our purpose is to power movements of sustainable and active lifestyles for the betterment of people and our planet. We connect this purpose with a relentless drive to succeed to create value for all stakeholders and use our company as a force for good. For more information, please visit vfc.com.