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“Everything I Needed to Know in Management, I learned as a Mom” – Cindy Taylor, CIO, Oxford Industries

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This was the title of the talk which kicked off the SAP Retail Forum’s Women’s Leadership Activity on October 21st in Miami. Cindy

Taylor, CIO of Oxford Industries, which includes brands such as Lilly Pulitzer and Tommy Bahama, gave a heart-warming and candid talk about her experience as a female leader. One of the highlights for me was a quote she shared from her daughter – “Mom, you put the fun in dysfunctional.”

I think this captures a feeling that a lot of professionals have, whether they are working parents or not. Achieving perfection is elusive in most settings, especially in business where there are so many dynamics at play. Cindy offered 3 management tips that have served her both as a parent and as a business leader. They include:

  • Roleplaying: “Be prepared” – She offered two examples where roleplaying improved the outcome
    • First, when her teenage daughter was going on her first date and Cindy wanted to coach her on ways to handle different situations she might face. As a mother of grade school daughters, this is an approach I took to heart.
    • Second, when her IT team was hosting a workshop for LOB stakeholders in their company. They used roleplaying to outline the workshop goals & objectives. This produced a workshop which not only covered the entire agenda but also finished early. This is unheard of in most corporate settings!
  • Arts & Crafts: In the same way that kids learn through experimenting with art materials to make craft projects, Cindy shared the importance of making learning fun in the workplace. Innovation is in the DNA of technology and other business functions can benefit from bringing innovation into their daily responsibilities.
  • Alignment: Whether you are a beach-goer or a mountain-lover, finding alignment with your family member or co-worker is key to collaboration

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After Cindy’s opening remarks, Reagan Lund from NEW shared results of their “Women 2020” survey. NEW includes 250 companies and 8300 members  focused on advancing women in business. Women represent 25% of spending in the US alone and there is potential for that spending power to translate to the workplace. NEW offers 5 key strategies in their full report on current trends, “Accelerators: Critical Competencies for Women Leaders in Retail and Consumer Goods (2015).”

Concluding the session, Lori Mitchell-Keller, Global General Manager, Consumer Industries, SAP, hosted a panel to discuss their thoughts on the topic of Women’s Leadership in Retail. Panel Members included:MiamiPanel3.JPG

  • Cindy Taylor, CIO, Oxford Industries
  • Glenda Light, SVP, Global Merchandise Planning, BCBG
  • Jackie Huba, Speaker & Author
  • Rachel Mushahwar, Head of Global Retail, Hospitality & CPG Enabling Team for Iot, Intel

The panelists shared their personal experiences and insights into the importance of networking. One panelist shared the saying “It’s not who you know but who knows what you know” to drive the point home. Good advice for all as we advocate for diversity in the workplace!


To access the full SAP Retail Forum Resource Center including customer presentations and keynote speakers like Jessica Alba from the Honest Company, visit this link.

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