Women in Power: Zappos CMO Ginny McCormick on How to Be Successful as a Disruptive Leader

As part of FN’s annual Women in Power issue, we asked 15 footwear execs who have stepped into prominent new roles this year to talk about overcoming obstacles and their advice for the next generation.

After starting her career at Reebok, Ginny McCormick spent more than a decade in the toy industry for companies like Hasbro and Mattel. She returned to the shoe industry last month, signing on as the first chief marketing officer in Zappos’ more than 20-year history.

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In her new role, Zappos said McCormick is tasked with “helping us deliver WOW to customers through developing fun and engaging storytelling experiences, and by creating energy in our teams by igniting a culture of passion, collaboration and experimentation.”

My leadership mantra:  

“‘Beyonce wasn’t built in a day.’ When joining a new organization, I believe it’s important to slow down initially to accelerate later. I’m prioritizing learning from my team and being patient with myself to ensure we have the right insights and foundation in place, prior to take off.”

The biggest opportunity and biggest challenge in my new role:

“On a more personal level, as an inherently curious person, I have an endless list of topics that I want to dive deeper into – from metaverse commerce to cooking custard toast. This is compounded by the exponential amount of new information coming at each of us every day. So both my challenge and opportunity is how to ruthlessly prioritize my attention and determine the areas of learning that will drive the biggest impact.

“When it comes to my role as CMO at Zappos, the ongoing challenge in today’s market is anticipating customers’ ever-evolving expectations in order to consistently exceed their needs and continue to surprise and delight them. Zappos has a proven track record of doing just that. As for opportunities, I’m prioritizing expanding and innovating our strategic partnerships with other brands that share our obsession for exceeding customers’ expectations.”

The most significant career barrier I’ve faced and how I overcame it:

“Throughout my career, I have consistently disrupted the way organizations were working. Asking teams to embrace new technologies, processes and ways of thinking can often be met with resistance. I’ve learned how to drive transformation by creating the right coalition and articulating a shared vision. I also proactively acknowledge that the transformation will be iterative, but ultimately a win for all. This approach has helped convert even the biggest critics.”

Advice for women starting out in their careers:

“I often quote my dad who believed, ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get.’ I would encourage everyone to clearly advocate for what you need to be successful at work, whether that’s on a specific project, or in regard to work-life balance. Do not assume anything is off the table and be wildly creative in your problem-solving approaches.”

One thing I wish someone had told me:

“The decisions you make out of fear are always the ones you regret the most.”

The leader who has had the biggest impact on me:

“I’ve learned from so many leaders, but given that this is Footwear News, I have to highlight my first boss, Paul Fireman, chairman and CEO of Reebok. When I graduated college, he offered me a job that was a ring-side seat to observing him lead and innovate a global brand. It was a master class!”

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