Beyond the Label
Women, Leadership, and Success on Our Own Terms
As Global CEO of Chanel, Maureen Chiquet steered the brand through a decade of disruption—and she did so with traditionally ‘feminine’ skills of empathy and communication. Today, she speaks on the value of having women in top leadership positions, what we can learn from injecting compassion and collaboration into the workplace, and how we can build success on our own terms.
“Thriving at work without losing yourself is no small feat, but Maureen Chiquet has done it. Her passion for practicing empathy and embracing self-reflection sets her apart as a leader.”— Arianna Huffington
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” and The Wall Street Journal’s “50 Women to Watch,” Chiquet began her career in marketing at L’Oreal Paris. She worked at The Gap, where she helped launch Old Navy to five billion dollars in sales within five years, and served as president of Banana Republic. Chiquet joined Chanel as COO and President of US Operations, and later became the couture fashion house’s first Global CEO. During her time at Chanel, she oversaw the international reputation of one of France’s top haute-couture brands, and helped grow the business three-fold.
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 is also a Trustee to the Yale Corporation and fellow of Yale University, where she graduated with a degree in film and literature.
To Maureen Chiquet, all great brands seem to possess a unique alchemy. They embody a sense of deeper purpose, connecting with people beyond products alone. Yet they are also driven by a superior product: a base of excellence that makes everything else possible. Drawing on her broad experience inside three of the world’s most iconic brands, 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.