New Balance SVP Melissa Worth Reveals Why Women Must Learn to Advocate for Themselves

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Melissa Worth has climbed the ladder at some of footwear and fashion’s largest companies, a journey that includes stops at Puma and Perry Ellis International, among other professional homes. She has called her career a great journey, one possible in part to having great mentors.

Worth, who is now the senior vice president of the Americas at New Balance, was one of several respected industry voices to speak at FN and Two Ten’s Women Who Rock event in New York City at the Prince George Ballroom. She was joined on stage by FN senior editor Nikara Johns. The speakers addressed the importance of both finding and becoming a great mentor, and offered valuable leadership lessons.

At New Balance, Worth oversees roughly 2,000 people. When speaking at Women Who Rock, she shared why it’s important to leave her door open for those who are seeking mentorship at the company.

“It’s critical for growth. Having that one-on-one time with someone and putting that investment in is so critical to their development,” she said, noting its especially important to make sure spaces are available at the table for the women she leads.

Prior to Wednesday night’s event, Worth and New Balance put this to practice. The company brought 10 associates from its female-focused She’s Got Now employee resource group to the Two Ten Footwear Foundation’s annual gala on Tuesday, a fundraising event that is attended by leading industry executives. (Worth recently joined the advisory board for Two Ten Footwear Foundation’s Women in the Footwear Industry (WIFI) community.)

Worth said at Women Who Rock that she tries to elicit a similar reaction from the people she mentors now to what she felt on her ascent in footwear and fashion. She said she wants to prove thought from her mentees, and for them to feel both excited and empowered about their potential.

The exec also offered advice for the women in attendance, particularly around being their own best advocates.

“I hear it a lot from women that I mentor, that they’re doing this amazing job and they think someone is going to come recognize it and give them a promotion. That happens sometimes, and it’s awesome, but more often than not I find that it doesn’t,” she said. “You need to ask for that and be able to advocate for yourself.”

This personal advocacy includes, according to Worth, not only asking for what they deserve, but requesting feedback so they can focus on what they need to develop further.

Worth also mentioned the importance of having a development plan.

“I have one myself personally that I update every year,” she said. “I think it’s a great tool to keep on track in terms of where you want to go. Sometimes we get so sucked into the day-to-day that the personal and career development needs to stay top of mind. Creating a space for that is really important.”

About the Author

Peter Verry is the Senior News and Features Editor for Athletic and Outdoor at Footwear News. He oversees coverage of the two fast-paced and ultracompetitive markets, which includes conducting in-depth interviews with industry leaders and writing stories on sneakers and outdoor shoes. He is a lifelong sneaker addict (and shares his newest purchases via @peterverry on Instagram) and spends most of his free time on a trail. He holds an M.A. in journalism from Hofstra University and can be reached at

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