Breakfast with the Bosses

Peter Sachse, Macy’s Chief Innovation Officer, Tim Baxter, Macy’s Chief Merchandising Officer, Ronny Wurtzburger, Peerless Clothing President, and Yehuda Shmidman, Sequential Brands Group CEO

What do you get when you bring together twenty of the YMA FSF’s top scholars with Macy’s Chief Innovation Officer, Peter Sachse, Macy’s Chief Merchandising Officer, Tim Baxter, Peerless Clothing President, Ronny Wurtzburger, and Sequential Brands Group CEO, Yehuda Shmidman?  A powerhouse Breakfast with the Bosses that bridges the gap between today’s most influential industry executives and tomorrow’s future leaders of fashion.  Receiving invaluable career advice and insights into the industry, FSF scholars were afforded the opportunity to sit down with the execs for a roundtable discussion, a little Q&A, and a beautiful tour of the Macy’s executive offices.

Behind The Little Red Star
One of the oldest department stores around, Macy’s opened in 1858 in New York City by a man named R.H. Macy.  A sailor out of Nantucket, R.H. Macy had failed at several businesses in New England and San Francisco before opening the store, “which goes to show a little bit about perseverance,” Sachse added.  As for the iconic red star that has been a symbol of the brand for over 157 years?  The story goes that, on one very foggy night, R.H. Macy was out sailing rough waters during a storm, trying to find his way back to shore.  Suddenly, he was guided by a brilliant red star that saved the ship and crew from the stormy seas.   From that point forward, Macy knew the star was a very important part of his life, and used it as the symbol for the brand ever since. Today, Macy’s operates more than 850 department stores in 45 states, and continues to be a leading force in the industry.

Tips from the Top

While seated around the table in the Macy’s conference room, Sachse, Wurtzburger, Baxter, and Shmidman shared valuable career advice with FSF scholars just starting out in the business.  From distinguishing themselves amongst their colleagues to making an impact in the industry, take a look here at some of our tips from the top:   

Ronny Wurtzburger, "Ronny 101"

  1. Love what you do - “The world is your oyster right now, you can be anything you want.  If you don’t love what you do, change it, because in this industry, you [have to] love every single day of it.”
  2. Have a strong handshake - “If you have a strong handshake, people look at you different[ly].”
  3. Be the first one in, and the last one to leave - “No matter what job you start, no matter how talented you are, there are only two things you can do better than everyone in the office—you can get there before them, and you can be the last one to leave.  You [have] to get yourself noticed without being conspicuous. 
  4. Don’t be a specialist, learn every aspect of the business - “Don’t settle for just one aspect of this industry.  If you want to be a major player in a company, you’ve got to know all aspects of it. Suck up everything you can see.”
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions - “Everyone respects the person who says ‘I don't understand that, can you explain it to me.’”  

Tim Baxter
Noting both Sachse and Wurtzburger as his mentors during his 24 years at Macy’s, Baxter advised scholars to “define yourselves, and define your role, the way you believe it should be defined.”  He continued, “As you move though your career, you’re always writing your story…what are you going to do in this roll that’s going to define [you], and be a really interesting chapter in your story? How are you going to have an impact on the industry you’re in?”  Another piece of advice: “Soak up all the information, [and] ask as many questions as you can.  Curiosity, and maintaining curiosity through your entire career, will benefit you greatly.” 

Peter Sachse
Sharing one of his favorite expressions, Sachse encouraged scholars to “Bloom where you’re planted…Pick what you’re going to do, [and] do that very, very well.  Understand that if you bloom where you’re planted, everything else will take care of itself.”  

Yehuda Shmidman
On his involvement with the YMA FSF and the upcoming 2016 Gala, Shmidman underscored the incredible opportunity scholars have as part of this program.  “I cannot think of an event that gets such a vast group of influential executives into one room.  Competitors, executives, retailers, partners, licensers.  It is the most unique event in the industry, and what an opportunity for you.”