Beyond the Label
Women, Leadership, and Success on Our Own Terms
As Global CEO of Chanel—and, earlier, as President of Banana Republic—Maureen Chiquet steered global brands through a decade of disruption, and she did so with traditionally ‘feminine’ skills of empathy and communication. Now, she speaks on the value of having women in top leadership positions—and what we can all learn from injecting more compassion and collaboration into the workplace.
“[Chiquet’s] advice will be especially resonant with a new generation of women inspired and empowered to create their own definitions of success and fulfillment.”— Indra Nooyi, Chairperson and CEO, PepsiCo
In her dizzying career, Maureen Chiquet found tremendous success within the traditionally male-dominated world of global retail and high fashion—not by compromising her values, but by forging a new definition of leadership for the twenty-first century. Balancing pragmatism with self-expression, self-assurance with introspection, and power with empathy, Chiquet outlines a bold program for women (and men!) to lead with authenticity and verve. “If we don’t start shifting the way we think about leadership … so that we can include qualities that are intrinsic to women,” she tells Inc. magazine, “I think we’re going to have a really hard time continuing to support and help women grow to those next levels.” Her journey of self-discovery and empowerment is movingly recounted in her acclaimed memoir, released this year, Beyond the Label: Women, Leadership, and Success on Our Own Terms. This book has been featured in leading publications such as Harper’s Bazaar, Bloomberg Radio, Women’s Wear Daily, Inc., Coveteur, and beyond, including a major Fashion & Style feature for The New York Times.
Recognized among Fortune’s “International Power 50,” Forbes’ “100 Most Powerful Women,” The Wall Street Journal’s “50 Women to Watch” and Glamour Magazine’s “Women of the Year,” Maureen Chiquet began her career in marketing at L’Oreal Paris in 1985. She has worked at The Gap, and helped launch and build Old Navy to $5 billion in sales within five years. She served as president of Banana Republic before becoming COO and President of US Operations of Chanel in 2003.
In 2007, Chiquet became Chanel’s first Global CEO, where she oversaw the international reputation of one of France’s top haute-couture brands, and helped grow the business three-fold. She left Chanel in 2016 to focus on writing, speaking, and developing new leadership initiatives. She is a Trustee to the Yale Corporation and fellow of Yale University, where she graduated in 1985 with a degree in film and literature.
Chiquet has served on the President’s Council of International Activities at Yale University, and is currently the non-executive board director of MatchesFashion.com, a London-based global luxury retailer. She also sits on the board of directors of children’s clothing company Peek … Aren’t You Curious and the board of trustees of the New York Academy of Art. She divides her time between Paris and New York.
To Maureen Chiquet, all great brands seem to possess a unique alchemy. They embody a certain amount of paradox by accomplishing things that seem, or once seemed, impossible. They embody a sense of deeper purpose, connecting with people beyond products alone. And they are also driven by a superior product: a base of excellence that makes everything else possible.
Drawing on her broad experience from mass to class, including inside three of the globe’s most iconic brands, Maureen Chiquet details the vital ingredients for creating and sustaining brand excellence. Sharing hard-won lessons and stories, Chiquet intrigues and provokes listeners to play with paradox, reframe the norm, ignore the rules, roll in the deep, and tap the best sources for intuition.
In this keynote, inspired by the David Whyte poem “Start Close In,” Maureen Chiquet will outline the kind of leadership required to meet the complexities of 21st century consumer-driven businesses. She identifies two interrelated issues at the heart of successful brand differentiation—core purpose and corporate culture. Talking through her own experience, industry observations, and relevant examples, she highlights what it takes for a brand to tap into its talent and create a more collaborative, innovative environment for its employees and consumers.