dE ROSAIRO Woman: Commissioner on the Status of Women

dE ROSAIRO Woman: Commissioner on the Status of Women

Full Name: Breanna Zwart
City and Country: San Francisco, USA
Primary Title and Company: Associate at Google Access, Market and Public Sector Impact
Secondary Title and Company: Commissioner, San Francisco’s Commission on the Status of Women

What about your career makes you feel proud?
I feel extremely privileged to be able to continue working on projects, which have visible impact to the communities around us. Straight out of college, as a Policy Advisor in San Diego, I had the opportunity to work with constituents, city departments, and other government agencies to secure funding for the construction of the first community library in Skyline in 25 years. After which, while at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, I developed recommendations and guidelines in the measurement and tracking of outcomes in financial access programs across international institutions, such as the World Bank, to account for gender-based impacts.
Now with Google, I’ve been able to continue working with the World Bank to advance best practices of Internet infrastructure. My day-to-day role involves working at both the global and local level, expanding Internet access for people around the world, and impacting men and women in their communities.

What inspired you to be doing what you are in your career?
My family has, and continues, to inspire me. My grandparents grew up in the rural Jim Crow south, but went on to get their college degrees, and advanced degrees. My grandmother’s civic leadership and ability to care for others has always served as a model to which I aspire. She’s not ashamed to take the lead and take credit. My father’s entrepreneurship showed me what it meant to bust your chops for your own ideas. My mother’s ability to rise above a difficult upbringing has shown me what perseverance is. I’ve tried to take the best from all of them and apply it to what I do every day.

What inspired you to serve on San Francisco’s Commission on the Status of Women?
In college, I was a co-director of Strong Women, Strong Girls, where I mentored 3rd through 5th graders in Pittsburgh elementary schools and community organizations. The curriculum used female role models to introduce girls to different careers, promote college, and to enable the girls to focus on skill building activities to increase their confidence. Tina was one of the many girls I worked with at the time, and she served as a role model to me in terms of how a little girl with the right support and opportunity can find her own wings to transform and fly. These individual encounters stuck with me.

I believe that women and girls should have equal opportunities to become individuals and unashamedly pursue their dreams. In order for this to happen, I believe systemic change is essential, and that’s why I serve on the commission. As a Commissioner, I work with my colleagues to advocate for women, and to ensure that women in San Francisco are not held back by systemic barriers. The Commission is dedicated to a broad range of issues affecting women and girls, including violence prevention, gender equality in the workplace, and equal representation on public decision-making bodies. As one of the strongest women's commissions in the country, we have led the way on innovative policies that reduce the incidence of violence against women in our neighborhoods, and enhance gender equality in local government and in local companies.

What are your top priorities as the Women’s Commissioner of San Francisco?
One of my top priorities for the City and County of San Francisco is to continue to be on the forefront of equality, as well as update our municipal ordinance, passed in 1998, that is based upon the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The commission has a rich history and legacy as a leader, and we need to make sure that we remain on the forefront of gender equality.

My top priority is to make sure that San Francisco’s ordinance is not just window dressing and is operationalized by city and county leadership. This means creating Gender Action Plans for departments that are updated on a bi-annual basis. Further, I would like to see consistent reporting on how the city is performing in regards to workforce representation, retention, and pay equity. I believe, and the literature backs me up on this, that the ability of policymakers and City leadership to monitor and improve these measures will lead to better quality of city services.

On your journey to success what has been your greatest challenge?
My greatest professional challenge has been carving out a space at the table when decisions are being made, and also being able to effectively advocate for my positions in the workplace and in the boardroom. Being a strong advocate is about finding your voice and having a sense of who you are, which is itself a journey. Luckily, I had a strong sense of self at a young age. Yet even with that, having knowledge and confidence is often viewed askance when it’s held by someone who is female and of color. This dynamic is a continuing challenge that I think never really goes away. You have to be sharp and know how to present yourself and your ideas to appeal to your audience. You need to build relationships and trust with colleagues, partners, and leadership.

At the same time I do think we need to work towards a larger paradigm shift in the cultural norms of who is assumed and expected to be a leader within business, government, and philanthropic organizations. Traditionally, in the United States, the model of leadership was white and male. And so the problem to solve for is that leadership isn’t just white and male, leadership comes from all walks of life -- male and female, black, white, Latino, Asian, gay and straight. There are many officials and executives who understand this and who are working to incubate and affect a broader change in individual, cultural, and institutional attitudes along these lines. But at the end of the day, I cannot live my life worried about what other people think. In my perseverance to marry through with my own missions, I have realized it is a tightrope, reflected in the Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

How important is it to you that we recognize and grow women leaders as a society, and why?
The fact that we still need to ask this question shows just how important it is. Women represent half the population, but we are not represented to that proportion in the leadership of the world’s major governments, corporations, or philanthropies. If you’re not at the table, then your interests are simply not going to be addressed. Women are disproportionately impacted by social problems, such as war, lack of infrastructure, or sub-par education.

Many leaders such as Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Sheryl Sandberg, or the columnist Nick Kristoff have written greatly about how investing in women provides disproportionate positive returns in terms of social and economic outcomes. I truly believe that if we had more women in the boardroom, in parliament, etc. the world would be a more just and prosperous place.

Leadership continues to be applauded for traits of transparency and vulnerability. How do you stay true to these traits in your day-to-day life and career?
I think we’re all human, we’re all fallible, we’re all imperfect, and because of that, being able to question yourself, share your personal life, and approach people collaboratively is what’s important. The ability to do those things lets people know you’re on their level, and if you’re good at what you do, that lends credibility.

A big part of effective leadership has to do with trust. I believe trust comes from letting people know where you stand and putting your cards on the table. In the past, trust as a leadership quality was not viewed as a “traditional” style of leadership, but we are starting to see it in the business literature -- that this style of leadership leads to better business outcomes. So, yes, I expect transparency and a level of vulnerability not only from my leadership, but I also try to model this behavior for myself in my own life.

What advice do you have for other women leaders?
Perseverance is key. No matter who you are, you’re going to face setbacks in life and in your career. You simply need to learn from them and become a stronger, smarter person. Women should embrace their emotional intelligence. It’s one of our strengths. And do not be afraid to ask for what you want.

Favorite quote and by whom?
“You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging” – Brene Brown

How does what you wear make you feel?
It makes a huge difference. When I worked for the U.S. Treasury Department it was very formal and everyone wore suits everyday. While some people would think that’s stifling, I thought the opposite. It was fun to know exactly what the uniform was and to figure out how to stretch that framework, in other words, how could I make it reflect my personality and be unique in a sea of suits. In my current gig, there is no uniform at Google; tech companies tend to be very laid back. If you’re seen on campus wearing more traditional business attire, colleagues tend to think you came from a job interview, so naturally I choose to dress more informal at Google, but even still I pay attention to how what I wear makes me feel. I do think it is important to have special nights where you get to dress up and feel glamorous, and for me those nights involve going to events and shows on weeknights and weekends.

What everyday luxuries do you enjoy?
Fresh flowers, they always brighten up life and remind me of the beauty in the world.

What is your favorite dE ROSAIRO design?
There are so many beautiful pieces! I am coveting the Armed Dress, the Ruched Sleeve Jacket, the Cape Incision Jacket ... it is difficult to choose one!

What social media links can we find you on?
LinkedIn | Instagram

HAPPY 2ND BIRTHDAY dE ROSAIRO

HAPPY 2ND BIRTHDAY dE ROSAIRO

We’ve dressed so many women and achieved a lot in just two years.

Today we are a:

1. Design House (via the clothes we design for power women)

2. Leadership House (via our participation on advisory boards, speaking engagements, and 1:1 leadership coaching)

3. Non Profit House (via our engagement with women survivors of human trafficking)

To celebrate our birthday with the community, last week we donated $7000 worth of dE ROSAIRO clothing to survivors of human trafficking through our non-profit partner organization, Not For Sale.

To celebrate our birthday with YOU, we’re giving away up to $1000 worth of dE ROSAIRO designs to a lucky winner.

Click Here to Win and join our celebration of women empowerment, women employment, and doing ‘good business’ around the world.

With love,
Nishika de Rosairo

CEO of the Household

CEO of the Household

Full Name: Alison Maxim
City and Country: Philadelphia, USA
Title: CEO of The Household
Company: Maxim Residence

What about your career makes you feel proud?
I feel proud that I can be with my children whenever they need me. I love being able to attend every school function, volunteer at their schools, and just stay at home with them if they fall ill. For me, being involved and immersed into my children’s everyday lives was always a goal of mine. I also believe it is equally important that I’m able to support my husband’s demanding career and work schedule. It can be challenging to raise children when both parents have demanding careers and work schedules, hence I have had the good fortune of being able to re-focus my priorities for now, while my husband can leave on work travel at the drop of a dime with no notice at all. I’ve got things covered.

What inspired you to be doing what you are in your career?
My mother was my inspiration. She stayed at home with my sisters and I until we were all in school full time. I have such sweet memories of walking in the door after school and my mom being there. Also, she was involved at our schools and she was our grade parent (class mom). All of my memories from school parties have mom at the forefront. It was so special to have her there and to anticipate her walking into our classrooms for every special event. I wanted to be able to do that for my children as well.

Prior to being CEO of the Household what was your career?
I started my career freelancing at Tommy Hilfiger in Amsterdam. I then moved to New York and continued my journey with the luxury womenswear brand, Escada. When I started at Escada, it reconfirmed for me that I was in a career that I could stay in forever. I lived, breathed and ate fashion. I wanted all parts of it, no matter how big or small. When my husband’s job moved us around the United States, I was no longer able to continue in the fashion industry, so I re-launched a new career in pharmaceutical sales, which allowed me to work from anywhere. It was a tough decision to leave the fashion industry but, in my heart, I always knew that it would come back to me. Six years later, I re-launched my career again, and this time as the CEO of the Household.

When people ask you what you do, do you feel proud to tell them what your role is?
I've always felt proud, knowing it is the role I am meant to be in. At first, I found myself saying, "I'm just a stay at home mom". I very quickly realized that I was diminishing my role simply by using the word 'just'. I had to figure out a way to answer people effectively so I started to say, "I left my professional career to be a stay at home mother". Sometimes, I would even say, "I'm a domestic engineer". Now more than ever, I know I am the CEO of the household, and most women know, there’s nothing simple about this role especially when you’re expected to put in long hours to physically nutrition, emotionally support, and constantly encourage all members of the household. Its almost as if I’m a life coach with a role that only ends when I go to bed, and literally starts the moment I open my eyes again the next morning. It is immensely satisfying, because I see the direct results of my efforts in my family’s health, wellbeing, and achievements, but also because it has grown and stretched me in ways that make me feel so proud every day.

Do you feel that sometimes people judge you for not having a typical workplace career?
Oh yes. I do feel judged sometimes by men and women alike. Some people just don't see the value in it and that's okay. People tend to associate value to a dollar number, and since the CEO of the Household is not a paid position, it tends to get undervalued tremendously. But the truth is, just like companies place value in things like their company culture, which has no dollar value, the CEO of the Household is a similar intangible position who’s benefits can only really be experienced and felt via the culture of the household and via the results driven by the members of the household. So for me, I will always be grateful that I am in a position to be a stay at home mother and that my husband supports it wholeheartedly. Being able to volunteer at my children’s schools and get them on and off the bus is something I never want to give up. Sometimes, I yearn for a more traditional career because life at home can be daunting, but the truth is, even in those moments I still know I am exactly where I am meant to be. I will never get this time back with my children and that, to me, is what makes being a stay at home mother worth every second.

How important is it to you that we recognize and grow women leaders as a society, and why?
It’s of utmost importance. Woman, as we all know, have been historically discriminated against and have not been provided with the same opportunities as men. I believe there is something so beautiful about woman encouraging and supporting other woman – regardless of chosen career path.In today’s vibrant culture, I think we are seeing more men supporting women in leadership roles, and I recognize and appreciate it when I see it.

What advice do you have for other women leaders?
Don’t get discouraged and always take at least one step forward each day. In this life, it is so easy to compare yourself to others and that can be so paralyzing. I believe if we clear our minds from all the things that cloud our vision and if we continue to move forward, no matter how small the step may seem, we are moving in the right direction. Upward and on!

Favorite quote and by whom?
“Whether you think can or think you can’t, you’re right” | Henry Ford

How does what you wear make you feel?
What I wear determines so much about my day. When I carefully and deliberately choose an outfit, down to my accessories and shoes, I feel better about myself and I also feel more determined. If I put on active wear, I am more inclined to work out. If I put on one of the dE ROSAIRO brand's killer asymmetric jackets and pair it with leather skinnies and a stiletto pump, I’m ready to conquer the day! A person’s outfit selection is important and it can give them the confidence they need for many of life’s situations.

What everyday luxuries do you enjoy?
Lately, I’m just happy to finish a cup of coffee while it’s still warm! I also love my facial products, which are so luxurious and leave my skin feeling exfoliated and fresh. Lastly, and this may sound a bit cheesy, I am grateful every day for my freedom in this country.

What social media links can we find you on?
Blog | Twitter

READY TO MAKE A NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION THAT CHANGES THE WORLD?

READY TO MAKE A NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION THAT CHANGES THE WORLD?

It’s that time of the year when we’ve all got New Years resolutions on our mind. If you’re wondering what yours should be, how about changing the world?

I’m currently in Rio de Janeiro, lounging at a beach club, enjoying a delicious Caipirinha, and writing my last blog of the year.

This is the end of my second week in Brazil, and in the midst of this amazing culture of passion, celebration and dance, I’ve been able to reflect on my 2015. And what a year it’s been! As a CEO and Creative Director, my world is forever evolving and growing. And it sometime takes getting away from it all, to truly reflect and spend time appreciating everything that has become.

We’ve made significant strides this past year in 3 key areas:

First and foremost, as a design house we keep celebrating the lifestyles of confident women who live in everyday luxury and embrace 'Desk 2 Desk' transitions.

Secondly, as a leadership arm, we provide employment to a women-driven sector of the local economy. All while sharing inspiring stories of real life women through our ‘dE ROSAIRO Woman’ leadership series, as well as by speaking and engaging in conferences and panels on entrepreneurship, leadership development and leadership coaching.

Thirdly, and most recently, our non-profit arm has established a long-term partnership with Not For Sale, through which we empower women survivors of human trafficking to regain their lives through our 'Look Feel Lead' model.

As the years pass, I know my sense of fulfillment arrives from the difference I am able to make in the lives of others. I’ve come to realize even through what may seem like insignificant and small gestures, for instance my purchasing habits, I can make a difference in the world. I’m a big believer of good quality ingredients going into the food I consume, the clothes I wear, and everything else I do. And even when I feel I’m only making a small difference, I have to remind myself that nothing in this world is too insignificant or small, if I have the ability to elevate someone else's life and positively impact their very being.

In this New Year, my wish to you is to open your mind to a world of possibilities. Adjust one thing in your life that allows you to grow. Delete one thing that provides zero fulfillment. And include one other thing in your life that changes the world… your world. What will it be?

Happy New Year!

With love,

Nishika de Rosairo

dE ROSAIRO WOMAN: Diana Zuluaga

dE ROSAIRO WOMAN: Diana Zuluaga

Full Name: Diana Zuluaga
City and Country: Bogota, Colombia
Title: Co-Founder/COO
Company: Jet D’Or - Global Private Jet Charter

What about your career makes you feel proud?
I am proud I was able to completely change the direction of my life by changing industries: from full-time employment in the public sector to being a Co-founder and businesswoman in the Luxury Travel industry. It was a huge risk to toss the career capital I had acquired during the years I spent working in world-class international organizations like the United Nations and the Clinton Foundation, including a graduate degree from New York University in Public Administration. Every single person I knew called me crazy. However I knew this was exactly what I wanted to do, and as a result, I now have a more complete life and I wouldn’t change a thing.

What inspired you to be doing what you are in your career?
I wanted my income and lifestyle to be a direct reflection of my effort. I have always been an overachiever, and I got tired of having jobs that didn’t encourage ambition, but instead, shut it down at times. One of my moments of clarity was reading the book “Secrets of a Millionaire Mind” by T. Harv Eker, which taught me to stop trading my time for money because time is limited and as a direct result so is my potential income.

When I moved out of the public sector into my first job in sales, I instantly knew this was the right path for me for several reasons. First working within a sales and commission-based environment was thrilling to me; I enjoyed the competition and fast-pace. And secondly, in just my second week on the job, I closed 3 big deals. This confirmed the new path I was on. And the next step for me was starting my own business.

On your journey to success what has been your greatest challenge?
One of the greatest, and most surprising challenges when I decided to end my career in Public Service and start in the private sector, were the opinions of the people in my life. People were in shock I would “waste” my undergraduate and graduate degrees, and the job experiences from the great international organizations I was fortunate enough to have worked at. This is when I knew I was different. Most people I knew wanted a change in their life, but were not willing to take the risk and start from scratch. Most people are not willing to get our of their comfort zones. But I embraced it. I wanted a change, no matter the cost. I had a strong feeling and a strong expectation that this was my new path. And it changed everything.

How important is it to you that we recognize and grow women leaders as a society, and why?
Research is telling us that women are the most influential group in global consumption and determining demand in dozens of industries. It is important for women to become key decision makers in every industry to shape how business is done from the inside, not just as consumers. It’s not only about the mechanics of product development, but the impact a strong female voice can have in the direction of a company’s culture and set new expectations of what women can achieve in the office and at home. Women leaders cannot be a novelty anymore, but instead they need to become the new normal in every industry.

Leadership continues to be applauded for traits of transparency and vulnerability. How do you stay true to these traits in your day-to-day life and career?
The best thing I can do as a woman in business is to honor my innate traits and needs first. I don’t try to fit in previously established molds for business or my industry. I am also straightforward in my communications, as much as I can be. The combination of honoring my traits / needs and not trying to fit into a mold often draws some criticism, but they are risks worth taking to stay true to myself. I have learned that colleagues and clients of mine that are also successful appreciate my approach to business.

What advice do you have for other women leaders?
I encourage other women as much as they can to share their voice. So many women have brilliant ideas that never take flight. Women in particular stop in the face of fear and uncertainty. We need to take bigger risks collectively. I have witnessed many occasions where women limit the growth of other women. Women should be at minimum, the safety net for other women. When we support and grow each other, women leadership rises to a new level of greatness.

Favorite quote and by whom?
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.” - Marianne Williamson

How does what you wear make you feel?
Dressing is our armor. When I have my tailored black jacket and heels on, I literally feel ready for anything. Since I became a businesswoman my style has become more simple and linear, I like looking polished and classic. I like seeing myself as a strong woman when I am dressed up for an important meeting or an event. This is something we as women enjoy and should embrace, regardless of our job or industry.

What everyday luxuries do you enjoy?
My husband and I are currently spending time in South America on business and we are being spoilt with an apartment that has a beautiful and grand ocean view. We enjoy that very much and are deeply grateful to have it.

I have a personal trainer 3 times a week that helps keep my body strong and keeps my progress organized. I have come to love my workout sessions as they energize me.

My husband and I enjoy cooking gourmet meals at least once a week using fresh ingredients. In a world where we are flooded with processed foods, we view eating in a natural way as an everyday luxury.

What social media links can we find you on?
LinkedIn | Twitter

INSPIRED BY STRENGTH

INSPIRED BY STRENGTH

“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within” | Maya Angelou

Through my work in leadership development I’ve been fortunate enough to come into contact with women from multiple cross-sections of life. These women have taught me a great deal, and continue to provide me with a lens through which to activate empathy on a daily basis. I’ve come to understand, regardless of circumstances, trials and tribulations, that the power present in strength is what ultimately enables us to overcome our obstacles and achieve our desired state of being.

In light of the numerous amazing women I have encountered, our FW15 collection is dedicated to women from all walks of life and inspired by the construct of strength. Strength through the timeless and supple characteristics of the clothes we design. Strength in going through life and its inevitable beauty and pain. Strength in enduring time and change.

dE ROSAIRO WOMAN: Isabel Schorer

dE ROSAIRO WOMAN: Isabel Schorer

Full Name: Isabel Schorer
City and Country: St Gallen, Switzerland
Title: Head of Economic Development
Company: City of St. Gallen, Switzerland

What about your career makes you feel proud?
In order to increase the appeal of St. Gallen as a business location I am in contact with a lot of different people developing new projects every day. Being the interface between economics, politics and society provides me with the ability to actively improve the economic landscape in and around St. Gallen as well as strengthen the value of Switzerland as a business location. This makes me happy and proud.

What inspired you to be doing what you are in your career?
St. Gallen is my hometown and I love this city. It has a beautiful cultural heritage in the way that it presents itself as an active contemporary city today and in how it strives to become an even better place to live in in the future. Doing what I do right now I can pour in all my heart and soul, and of course all my knowledge into bringing St. Gallen forward to new innovative horizons. Projects to enhance cultural, economical and political aspects of life in and around St. Gallen challenge and inspire me.

On your journey to success what has been your greatest challenge?
I am the type of person who appreciates challenges and likes to tackle them head-on. I guess my biggest challenge is the one I am facing right now, where I made a decision to run for the Swiss National Council; a new intensive and demanding challenge but very revealing and exciting so far. In case of an election, this would be an extreme change in my life.

Even now, as a possible future member of the parliament my life has changed. From one day to the other I am in the limelight, and people want to hear my opinion on basically every issue in Switzerland. Being young, a woman, and not having previous political experience I attract attention. This is an advantage for my election campaign as my name recognition rises. On the other hand the increasing focus on the ‘political me’ is a new concept in my life. It’s a constant balancing act between straightforwardness and diplomacy. How do I present myself from the heart and give people my unfiltered, true opinion? How do I distinguish myself from the other candidates by staying true to my views without being too pushy or too straightforward?

How important is it to you that we recognize and grow women leaders as a society, and why?
I am convinced that in today’s world it is crucial that women have the possibility to achieve the same positions and engagements as their male colleagues. In my opinion the future will be more female oriented and therefore the atmosphere present in teams and work groups will change. It is very important that all genders are present in all hierarchy levels; yin and yang combined achieve the best solutions!

Leadership continues to be applauded for traits of transparency and vulnerability. How do you stay true to these traits in your day-to-day life and career?
I really believe that the fastest way to sustained solutions is to be transparent, to be able to trust yourself, and to be trusted by others. This is what I strive to apply in my team every day; to combine the knowledge of all partners in an open, trusting ambiance. I believe that in politics as well, transparency is the way to effect positive change and if I have an opportunity to win a seat on the Swiss National Council, then this is a challenge that I look forward to embracing.

What advice do you have for other women leaders?
Be feminine and authentic.

Favorite quote and by whom?
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” - Wayne Gretzky

How does what you wear make you feel?
My clothes are like good friends. They help me feel comfortable in whatever I am doing. I like to wear stylish clothes but they need to serve the purpose. Looking at my outfit you’ll know where I am heading next; business lunch, gym, meeting with the mayor or a stroll in the park. I also have the habit of trying on my outfit for the following day in the evening so I don’t have to worry about anything in the morning.

What everyday luxuries do you enjoy?
I enjoy the luxury of a very pedestrian friendly surrounding. I very much enjoy the daily walk from my apartment to work; it clears my head and provides oxygen and energy for the day.

What social media links can we find you on?
LinkedIn | Facebook

dE ROSAIRO WOMAN – A Mans Perspective

dE ROSAIRO WOMAN – A Mans Perspective

Full Name: Matthew Nordby
City and Country: Los Angeles, USA
Title: President, Global Licensing
Company: Playboy Enterprises Inc

What about your career makes you feel proud?
Beyond being a father and husband first, the most important component of my career is that I’ve experienced success without having to compromise my integrity. I feel proud to have served as a leader in both enterprise technology and more recently the business of fashion over the course of my 14-year career. The greatest satisfaction is to see people I’ve hired or mentored succeed. Two mentees have gone on to found successful tech companies and another former co-worker launched a successful fashion line.

What inspired you to be doing what you are in your career?
I’m a firm believer in defined tenure when it comes to executive roles. Given this belief and post the sale of our software start-up in 2010, I knew it was time to take on a new opportunity. I left the comforts (and generous incentive compensation) of high-tech to join Playboy, which was a much lower risk than it appeared to the outside world. Teaming up with the CEO at Playboy Enterprise in 2011 the firm gave me an opportunity to restore an iconic brand with 97% unaided global awareness. Seeing how people from all over the world desire to be a part of the exclusive world the Rabbit Head symbolizes is truly inspiring. Playboy’s consumer licensing business is now the revenue and profit engine for the enterprise that once depended on print media for viability. This year Playboy made the list of Top 50 largest licensed business in the world with over $1.5B in global consumer product sales. While there still remains work to do on this brand (specifically in North America), I am inspired by the direction the brand is headed.

On your journey to success what role has diversity played in your career and in your life?
Diversity is critical to all success. High-performing teams must not fall victim to group-think. Specifically in our business, waking up every morning with a Beverly Hills view of the world is a go-out-of-business strategy given the majority of our profit is derived from Asia. Embracing diversity means we hire teams that are well traveled, who individually bring international perspective to the table, and are grounded in the fact that you must be willing to go anywhere the consumer gives you permission to be.

As a male, what are some of the challenges you face in the workforce?
I’m a white American male executive so the label as a de-facto member of some “boy’s club” is not uncommon. I am not an Ivy-league MBA or a bloodline that expands beyond the son of a music teacher. I have been promoted out-working those ivory tower types who find comfort in status symbols such as fancy degrees or private club memberships. Breaking these embedded stereotypes can be a challenge.

How important is it to you that we recognize and grow women leaders as a society, and why?
Women are more intelligent (depending on what IQ research you believe) and balance a heck of a lot more than men in our society today. I always hire the most qualified candidates, and it turns out that most of my key direct reports are strong female executives. I also married a highly successful creative talent (a former senior designer at Calvin Klein) and I have a beautiful daughter that will be taught that she will have the same opportunities as the boys. I am not a believer in quotas or special treatment as it’s disingenuous to any minority group. I want to see society provide the same set of resources to all regardless of gender, sexual preference or race.

What advice do you have for leaders on the topic of diversity, both men and women alike?
Hire the best talent and form a team around you that is capable of embracing new ideas. More important than your degree or tenure is the ability to have the professional courage to embrace ideas foreign to your own.

Favorite quote and by whom?
“If your strategy isn’t controversial, you have zero chance of making money”
- Scott G McNealy (Co-Founder of Sun Microsystems)

How does what you wear make you feel?
I must feel comfortable which is why you rarely see me wearing collared shirts even when in a full suit. I’m in the branding business so I’m a big fan of brands that provide accessible luxury to consumers. I frequently visit China and enjoy wearing our Playboy suit line as it represents an “arrival” for many in the rapidly forming middle class of that country. It should not surprise you that I own a designer pair of Del Toro x Playboy Slippers that I proudly wear to almost every meeting. I believe in comfort above all else so yes, I wear designer slippers to work.

What everyday luxuries do you enjoy?
On the personal front, spending time with my wife and daughter at our home in Lake Tahoe. I am learning German (my wife’s native language) along with my 1 year old who is catching on much faster. On the product front, I enjoy Tumi as a trusted brand that keeps up with my daily travel and heavy international schedule.

What social media links can we find you on?
LinkedIn | Twitter