Macy’s Celebrates Women’s History Month with Chief Merchandising Officer Patti Ongman

This February, Macy’s announced the appointment of Patti Ongman, Macy’s first female Chief Merchandising Officer.

As a world-class merchant and valued member of our vendor community, Patti is a trusted leader with a stellar reputation. She’s had a storied career and has trained and developed some of the best merchants in the industry, right here at Macy’s.

In the spirit of Women’s History Month, Coast to Coast sat down with Patti to learn more about her 33-year career journey with Macy’s, and hear what career advice she has for young professionals.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m married to David, a wonderful, supportive and quite patient man! We have two children: Matt, who has two children of his own, and Lexi, who is in law school. I love to read, garden and do just about anything outdoors. California is my home but I’ve been in New York for over 10 years and feel like NYC is home as well!

What excites you most about assuming this role?

I’m truly thrilled to have this job. Product and people are where I find my energy and this job gives me tons of both. I believe in our Path to Growth strategy and want to make sure that Merchandising is doing everything possible to make Macy’s successful.

It’s impossible to reach our goals without the Merchandising teams performing at our peak, and I’m very proud and excited to be leading that effort.  

How would you describe your leadership style?

I am a person who thrives off of the energy of those around me. I believe everyone has something to contribute, regardless of level, and it’s our responsibility as People Leaders to create an environment where colleagues can share and build on one another’s ideas, maximizing their contributions.   

I value curiosity, intelligence, good attitudes and a willingness to contribute. I feel lucky to be surrounded by the best merchants, support, operations, marketing and stores teams in the industry. I often say “thank you” to my colleagues. 

What have been your proudest moments, personally or professionally?

I’ve had a lot of proud moments. What I am most proud of is developing leaders. Whether it be my son and daughter, or the people I have worked with over the years at Macy’s – my proudest moments happen when I see them do something even better than I could!

Who are your favorite female-owned brands or female trailblazers you admire?

I’m proud of all of our female-owned and lead brands, but Patricia Nash is among my favorites.

I admire her for being so true to her brand image. Her product is distinctive – she didn’t fall into the rut of doing the exact same bags as everyone else. She has methodically expanded her category assortment over the years, and continues to create a distinctive offering that is true to the DNA of her vision. She has put in the work to be successful by doing personal appearances, spending time in factories, being highly curious and finding innovative ways to tell her story.

What was a valuable lesson you learned that you’ve carried with you throughout your career? 

Don’t let emotion lead your actions.

Looking back, what advice would you give yourself when you first started out?

Believe in yourself! Gaining confidence and believing I could do anything with the support of my partners was a turning point in my career. Set goals and believe in your ability to make them happen, then clearly communicate them and stay focused.