Since the start of 2016, Macy’s has added three new members to the Executive Management Team. These additions to our senior leadership bring a distinctive combination of experience and passion for our brand. Coast to Coast sat down with Elisa Garcia, Richard Lennox and Justin MacFarlane to learn more about their career paths, their roles at Macy’s, and what they aim to accomplish.
Elisa D. Garcia joined Macy’s, Inc. in September 2016 as chief legal officer. She serves as the company’s chief legal counsel and secretary to the board of directors and oversees law department functions located in Cincinnati, St. Louis, Atlanta, San Francisco and New York City. Read Elisa’s full bio here.
I am a tapestry of all of the influences of my life. Some of the strongest threads are the earliest ones. I was born in Brooklyn and spent all but the past 16 years of my life in the New York City area. I grew up speaking Spanish at home and learned English in kindergarten. My grandmother was a cook from the age of 13 in the kitchen of a duke in Spain. She came to America at 17-years-old and eventually had her own bar and grill near the Brooklyn docks. My father was a longshoreman and a merchant seaman. I watched my Dad struggle to get his GED, because he had to leave school in the 8th grade to help support his family. For the entire time I knew my Dad, he worked as a boiler room engineer in the A&S Brooklyn store, so I have an early Macy's connection. My mom worked in the school cafeteria keeping order.
Those early influences have made me humble, determined and proud. They taught me the importance of family. They made me realize the value of education and cherish the opportunities I had to pursue it. I love learning new things and appreciate great food and good wine. I love to travel, so long as I can do it with a carry-on!
Like many others, I started working in retail during college – at Seidman’s Menswear in Long Island, NY. I have always enjoyed working with people and helping them solve problems. It began with helping men find ties to match a new suit, and eventually evolved into working with executive teams of businesses that get the products into consumer’s hands – pizza, pencils, and now, at Macy’s, just about everything! I’ve worked in consumer packaged goods as well, selling products to the retailers that connected them to consumers. I guess it was a natural evolution to come to such an iconic retailer.
Change! The retail industry is rapidly changing. The way we leverage bricks and mortar and differentiate our product offering will be critical, but retail is always changing and Macy’s has been an innovator in how it reacts. The energy, integrity and legacy at Macy’s were also drivers of my desire to join the team.
With the support of Terry, Jeff and my executive committee peers, I am fully immersed in learning the business. I’ve gotten a great overview of the company through site visits and meetings with the management teams at MMG, MLO, MCCS, Bloomingdale’s, and MCOM, as well as with Finance and Human Resources. The legal team has been instrumental in my learning about our key risks and legal issues. I am spending time in stores, and plan to spend more time with our merchants so that I can truly learn how Macy’s makes money. In addition, I need to spend time with the board of directors and ensure that they have what they need to provide oversight to the company and guidance to Jeff as he moves into his new role.
Our lawyers know the business, but the business is changing. Our lawyers know the laws affecting our business, but the laws and regulations are constantly changing and being enacted. We need to continuously learn and adapt our approaches to complying with all of the risks our evolving business structure introduces. Additionally, we need to stay very close to our business partners to ensure we provide the legal guidance and training they need to protect the company.
Change is good!
I am very excited that I will be a clown in the parade this year, along with my son! I have so many character favorites as well. Underdog was a childhood favorite, as was Bullwinkle the Moose; Barney was a big hit when my daughter was a child; my son loved Jimmy Neutron and Spongebob. The Pillsbury Doughboy always makes me smile! And I always cry when Santa arrives. If I am checking on the turkey, my kids always call me to come see Santa. I believe and they believe, because when you stop believing, he stops coming!
Richard A. Lennox joined Macy’s, Inc. in September 2016 as chief marketing officer, with responsibility for Macy’s omnichannel market presence and strategy, including brand, promotional, store, digital and events marketing activity. Read Richard's full bio here.
I grew up in England; my father was in the military. I started my career in a big multinational advertising agency. I spent 20 years of my career there, where I had the chance to travel the world and live in Tokyo, Japan. I came to the States 17 years ago with my wife. Since we’ve been here, we’ve had two beautiful daughters who have both British and American citizenship. I’ve lived in New York for the majority of that time. For the first 10 years of my time in America, I was running the De Beers business at JWT – then went down to Zales to be part of that turnaround. Most recently, I was at Toys R’ Us, and then I got the opportunity to come to Macy’s, and was absolutely thrilled and jumped at the chance. Outside of work, I ride horses and am a fanatical rugby fan.
Firstly, I read Zoology at university so it’s actually quite unexpected to have this career at all. I originally intended to be a veterinarian, and after spending some time working in British veterinary roles, I decided I actually didn’t want to be a vet. When I came out of university, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I spent a brief period of time in a consultancy company and then was lucky enough to be hired by JWT as a junior planner. My role was an experiment for them – they had never had a junior planner position. Of course, it turned into a great opportunity and I was incredibly fortunate to spend the formative years of my career in what I consider to be one of the best strategic planning units in the world at that time. Further, I worked under truly forward-thinking marketers who mentored me in my early years. I then started a retail career about seven years ago, where I have been focused on retail turnaround.
There’s a saying, “The big don’t always eat the small, but the fast always eat the slow.” As a marketer today, you have to balance between forming a long-term strategic vision of the brand narrative and purpose and working through very agile, high-paced, tactical elements that exist within that plan. The trick is getting that balance. You have to have the strategic vision, but you have to use the agile tactics to get there.
Macy’s is such an incredibly iconic brand. In marketing, you are always looking for opportunities to work on important, culturally-significant brands, and Macy’s is absolutely at the top of that list. It was the importance of the scale of Macy’s that attracted me to the opportunity. And also, the fact that there’s a challenge to help the teams redefine what Macy’s is and what it means to customers. Together, it’s the iconic nature of the brand but also the challenge that excites me about joining the leadership team.
Exceptional marketing departments are ones that utilize an eclectic mix of individuals. Today, we need people who are intuitively creative and have a natural feel for what is brand right. We equally need people who are incredibly good around data science and data mining. We need people who are visionary in how they think about brands, and those who can run a promotional calendar on a day-to-day basis. We need people who are deeply tenured in the business and have a strong understanding of the DNA and the culture of Macy’s, and people who have no experience, who can come in and ask the what-ifs and whys. Leading great marketing departments is about aligning the ideal mix of different people. If you get the mix right, that’s where the big ideas happen.
The tradition – it’s amazing. One of the things that makes Macy’s such a remarkable brand is its generosity to the American people. There is no other company that does events like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Fourth of July Fireworks. So my favorite thing about the parade is the brand generosity.
Justin MacFarlane joined Macy’s, Inc. in February 2016 in the new role of chief strategy, analytics and innovation officer, with responsibility for Macy’s strategic development, consumer and customer research, data analysis, innovation and development of future new business opportunities. Read Justin’s full bio here.
I grew up in Central Massachusetts, about 45 minutes west of Boston, and my wife is from Greensboro, NC, so we have this whole North/South thing going on. The time that I spend outside of work is mostly with my two boys: I have a 7- and 5-year-old. I coach their baseball teams and pretty much my entire weekend is dedicated to playing baseball, as well as taking them to their soccer games, and doing everything else around sports that they want to do. That time is a big part of our life and our family.
First and foremost, since all of these groups were previously living in different pyramids – what I’ve seen is that bringing them together has allowed them to more easily share ideas and collaborate. There are a lot of folks with similar backgrounds – in research, consulting – and now they feel that they are surrounded by more people that they can bounce ideas off of. What that does for the business is that it allows us to give a more comprehensive view and solution to our internal clients. The other thing that we have now is a client service mentality throughout the group and, by consolidating these functions, we can go to market, so to speak, with one set of ideas. As we roll out new strategies and priorities, we can align those within that centralized group before we go out to the rest of the organization.
I think, as with any historic brand, we are subject to a lot of change, and that change is good. The industry is changing, and Macy’s itself is doing a really, really good job of adapting to that change, but it is all happening so rapidly. We need to move even faster; we need to be even more urgent about the things that we are working on. The unique aspect is that the heritage is more than 100 years old, and that’s a positive and a benefit for our customers and employees alike. The challenge is that there may be new ways of doing things and looking at things, and I think people are certainly willing to embrace those – but they need to now embrace even more quickly in order to really change at the rate that we need to.
Number one is that you have to accept it. Accept that change is afoot. We all have to reinvent ourselves and reinvent our positions in order for the company to be successful. Be a steward or a supporter of the change, by leading change – that’s the best way to get yourself noticed and enhance your career in an organization that is changing so fast.
The good news is that this is an area where we had already done a lot before I joined the organization. We have a small but mighty team that does all of our testing for the organization. It has now become a mindset. The fact that we can move a lot faster and do things that were very complicated before is a huge benefit. Now, we have the capability and willingness to go out and test new things. We have a number of very exciting tests that are going on in the organization right now. So, I think we are already well on our way.
My favorite aspect of the parade is certainly family. To me, it’s about having the parade on TV, having my family around, watching the balloons, watching the Broadway productions, and just knowing that we’re all hanging out, cooking and having fun as a family. It’s very much what the parade is for me and what I treasure about it.