Susan McGalla is the Director of Strategic Planning and Growth for the Pittsburgh Steelers and previously founded P3 Executive Consulting. She has also been President and CMO of American Eagle Outfitters and CEO of Wet Seal.
With all her success, you might assume her father was a high powered business executive. The business world is hard to break into, especially traditionally male roles like working with football teams. So, how did she do it? She actually had a fairly modest upbringing, but one she considers essential to her success. She grew up with two older brothers and a father that was a football coach. Her family didn’t treat her any differently because she was a girl. They didn’t see gender as having anything to do with someone’s abilities. According to Mrs. McGalla, “I was brought up by parents who encouraged me to work hard and present my good ideas with confidence regardless of the audience. As a result, I have always been equally comfortable with men and women and excelled in working with both.”
McGalla got a degree from Mount Union College and began working for Joseph Horne Company. In 1994 she began working for American Eagle Outfitters. When she began working there, the company was predominately focused on menswear. Their were no women in Executive Positions. She didn’t set out to “break the glass ceiling”. She didn’t give much thought to her gender in terms of her career. Perhaps that is what led to get becoming President of the company.
Eventually she left American Eagle to become CEO of Wet Seal. Wet Seal was struggling at the time, and she developed a completely new branding strategy. As evidenced by customer research, she improved product trends and quality.
When she left Wet Seal she founded P3 Executive Consulting. P3 advises some of the biggest players in the retail and clothing sectors on branding, marketing, product merchandising, and talent management. In addition to this is her position with the Steelers where she is working to foster and grow the brand.
From humble beginnings to a very impressive and lucrative career, she is an inspiration to everyone. Her philosophy of focusing on her own skills instead of others prejudice is a wonderful lesson not only for women but other minorities as well. Perhaps we should all strive to have Mrs. McGalla’s attitude, which she sums up best, saying “To make the point, I never carried a chip on my shoulder of what I should be entitled to as a woman or what prejudices existed.”