“Envisioning the non-obvious makes things unexpected”

Have you ever made a career move that had family and friends questioning your motives? Federica Marchionni became the CEO of apparel company, Lands’ End in February, leaving an executive position as President of US Operations at luxury brand Dolce & Gabbana.

Her career started in the telecommunications industry and led to an executive assignment at Ferrari before her move to D&G in 2001. Now she leads an organization with significant challenges after the company was spun off by parent Sears in 2014.

The ‘CBS This Morning’ news program reported on her move in a pre-taped interview:

“Marchionni is leading the company while splitting her time between New York and Wisconsin. From small town to Times Square, Marchionni is able to navigate two very different worlds.

“And I like it. And what I said is that envisioning the non-obvious makes things unexpected. And, of course, this wasn’t an expected choice. But only when you do take chances, you can grow,” she said.”

Take a minute to think about successful folks you have met. Why are they good at what they do? They take regular excursions away from their comfort zone. They make the ‘unexpected’ choice. They risk failure and professional reputation to achieve their definition of success.

In the case of Ms. Marchionni, her company is based in Dodgeville, Wisconsin but her office is in New York. She made a career choice that family and friends questioned, but her decision was not made in a void. Prior to joining Land’s End, she was familiar with the product line and supportive of the company founder’s commitment to the environment.

At the recent ‘Women in the World Summit’ she shared her vision for Land’s End:

“As the new CEO of Lands’ End, I want to lead this amazing American iconic company to become a meaningful global lifestyle brand. Meaningful in the way we conduct our business, in the way we make decisions, the way we inspire people (in our) community and the world.”

How will she accomplish her goals?

Speaking with CBS News: “The founder always said that if you take care of your people, if you take care of your customer, the business will take care of itself. And I totally, totally agree with that.”

Not all of us are contemplating ‘C-Suite’ employment packages, but we can learn from leaders who transition from one company to another.

Understand the culture, the product, the financials and the customer. Research will give you all the information you need before you accept a position.

Own the decision, even if friends and family are skeptical. Trust your gut.

Embrace change. Really. Corporate life today takes place in the world of the unexpected. That’s not a choice.

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