Sharen Jester Turney, Retail Legend & Upcoming Keynote, Answers Your Questions!

Never before have marketers and retailers been disrupted like they are today amid COVID-19, which is why executive education & peer-to-peer learning is so valuable during this time. Our upcoming virtual assembly offers leaders the opportunity to brainstorm, collaborate and network in a 2-day high-level think tank for C-Suite executives. 

Featured Keynote Speaker, Sharen Jester Turney, is a retail legend & force to be reckoned with – she holds over 30 years of experience growing world-class brands and launching ecommerce businesses across department, luxury, and specialty concepts for Fortune 500 companies. During her 16-year tenure as Victoria Secret’s President and CEO, her team saw a doubling of business and profit. Prior to this, she launched Neiman Marcus’ ecommerce platform & managed the famous Christmas Book as the President & CEO of Neiman Marcus Direct. 

At our Digital Marketing & Retail Transformation Assembly, Sharen Jester Turney will offer her insight & wisdom on how today’s leaders can face the challenges presented by COVID-19. For a taste of what to expect at the assembly, she addressed the leading concerns our marketing & retail members are facing – see the full Q/A below! Go Here to RSVP for the Virtual Assembly.

Q: This year has been a catalyst for change across all industries. What trends and takeaways have you drawn from this year so far?


Mindset – To manage through the dynamics of extreme changes, you have to have the right mindset.  Confidence in that you can figure out how your business has to change with the right people and operations.

People – We must be compassionate towards each other.  Every person is on their own and unknown journey.  Now more than ever, we must over-communicate.  People need to know.  We need to share the best intel, openly, freely, with transparency.

Encouragement – Give credit to others.  Recognition, especially during these times, is imperative.

Resilience – While leaders manage challenges as part of their role, we are in a new era.  It is just as important to manage both your own and your team’s energy.

Collaboration – I think leaders are reaching out more than ever to learn from other leaders in their industries and other industries.  Increased partnerships are happening all over the world.

Technology – If you had kinks in your technology before 2020, they are certainly providing a lot more pain now and must be fixed to not only survive but thrive.

Customer Experience – Great companies have taken this next level.  Customers care even more about who they do business with, making sure their values align.  They are watching to ensure that companies are putting people over profit, being transparent and timely in their actions.

Supply Chain – There has been a lot of rethinking around supply chains – who, when, how, why and the management of what we produce and how much we produce alongside of the impact to our world.

Q: How do you think organizations should approach their omnichannel strategy in a COVID-conscious world? What is there to be said about the importance of ecommerce moving forward? 

SJT: There is no doubt that you have to have an agile platform that can scale up or down in real-time.  It is do or die time for ecommerce.  Certainly, the importance was predicted for brick and mortar to evolve to digital, for those slow to move, they are now pushed to get it done or become irrelevant, if they aren’t already.  The customer experience has to feel consistent, transparent, and easy. Omnichannel execution is really like a symphony coming together…you know when it’s right.

Q: Purpose-driven marketing has never been more critical to brands’ messaging than it is now. What advice do you have for today’s marketing leaders in light of this?

SJT: Your messaging has to align with your company values first.  People have so much going on that you run the risk of disengagement if your communication is not resonating with your brand or customers.

I think it’s important that the messaging is informative, transparent, easy, and available in all owned and non-owned platforms that align with your business.  In addition, customers appreciate companies celebrating other companies for what they are doing to help.  And that may take you to new platforms and audiences in an organic way.

Customers want to know how you are helping.  What problem are you helping solve?  How are you giving back?  Companies have to share their purpose and even more so, their Higher Purpose of why they exist.

Q: What brands do you think are leading the conversation during this time, and what sets them apart from the competition?

SJT: High profile companies like Microsoft, Google, and Walmart and smaller companies like Allbirds and startups like We Are HAH have done a great job of communicating early, with clarity and transparency.

Microsoft, with its headquarters being in one of the early outbreak areas, made quick decisions with limited data.  They took a very conservative position on how they will protect their people and customers.  Their actions of work from home, continuing to pay their hourly employees, and closing stores matched to their values of respect, integrity, and accountability.

Google has been a leader for extending and defining their work from home framework.  They made a quick decision and provided details that gave people comfort in these most dynamic times.

And Walmart for giving bonuses, wage increases, and implementing comprehensive safety protocols for employees and customers.  They have been spot on for servicing their customers, making things simple, convenient, and safe.  They were quick to respond, positioning themselves as the essential place to go.

Allbirds, for being a conscious direct to consumer (online and strategically located stores) footwear and underwear-basics company.  Consumers are watching how companies operate.  Plus, the recent collaboration with Adidas to build a zero-carbon footprint running shoe is trailblazing.  They are consistently living their values.  Customers trust them.

And startup, We Are HAH – A sustainable collection of lingerie, swim, and lifestyle apparel created by women for everyone.  What makes them special is they are committed to delivering on their sustainability promise of moving to circularity and giving permission to themselves and their customers to #StartSomewhere in living a sustainable lifestyle.  Consumers care more now than ever about how a company operates and how they are helping people and the planet.

Q: The last 5 months have been turbulent, to say the least. Are your clients picking up steam, or are they still struggling with the nuances brought on by the pandemic? 

SJT: The companies I am working with are making headway.  In some areas of their business, they are picking up steam, especially in the direct to consumer space. In contrast, the wholesale side is being challenged more.  It took this environment to push companies to be their absolute best.

I think it’s going to be extreme efforts required until it’s not.  But that does not mean that the companies I work with that you work with are not moving forward and being better.  I see it happening.  We are all living it, and we are learning so much.  New ways. New days.

It’s tough to see companies failing all around the world, but chances are they had unaddressed challenges pushing them in the wrong direction before this pandemic.

Interested in learning more about our Virtual Assembly with Sharen Jester Turney? Click Here to Learn More!

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