THE PRAGMATIC LEADER
Make sure you’re not the smartest person in the room, because if you are, then you’re in the wrong room.
Margaret Moraskie is an accomplished retail executive with over 20 years of experience, leveraging customer-centric strategy and marketing initiatives to successfully grow and deliver results.
Margaret stepped into the role of CEO of Levenger, the iconic specialty retailer of fine products for home and office, 15 months ago, in the midst of COVID, and all the ensuing challenges. The reason? Her energy, passion and belief in Levenger’s business that had been essentially stagnant for several years. “I think of us as a 35-year old start up, with the benefits of strong brand heritage and loyal customers,” she says. The business needed a good dose of belief, discipline, and a vision to regain our previous position in the market. Margaret was instrumental in creating that roadmap towards delivering solid and growing results.
Margaret was previously the company’s chief marketing officer. Before joining Levenger, Margaret was senior vice president of Customer Analytics & Intelligence for Chico’s FAS, a role to which she was appointed after the company’s acquisition of the Boston Proper brand, where she spent 20 years and was responsible for spearheading the retailer’s e-commerce transition to a data-driven, digital-first company.
Margaret remembers the head of an earlier company she was working for citing the famous quote: “make sure you’re not the smartest person in the room, because if you are, then you’re in the wrong room.” It was from him she had learned, early in career, as to how important it is to be surrounded with very talented people and to allow them do what they were hired to do. “As a leader it’s important to complement your strengths and weaknesses with people who were different and as a result, the team will be stronger,” she notes.
And for those who are in rat race to climb up the corporate ladder, Margarett advises to take time for themselves and make white space in their routine. You are no good to anyone else if you are exhausted, frustrated or burned out. “I took a break in my career a few years ago when I was turning fifty and my daughter was going off to college. At that point, my passion had dwindled and I didn’t think I’d ever work full time again, and instead, I did things like volunteer at a dog shelter and putter in the garden. However, during that four months I found a fresh perspective and new energy to commit to returning to my career. I remind myself that as CEO (or in any role for that matter) I can easily work from early morning until evening, every day, but I deliberately stop in the middle of the week to make time for research, learning and spend time in the creative area of our office, instead of constantly sitting in front of the computer staring at spreadsheets and emails. This is true of our personal lives as well,” she narrates and adds, “We are always “busy”. It’s OK just to be…”
An avid reader, who loves to travel and hear live music, Margaret firmly believes that you must nourish your whole self to be a strong leader. “Good friendships, downtime, self-reflection and hobbies all contribute to who I am as a person. That is not separate from who I am as a leader,” she remarks.
President & CEO, Levenger Company
The Pragmatic Leader