Susan McGalla has always been a fighter. When she became one of the youngest female CEOs in history, no one was surprised. The Philadelphia native headed American Eagle Outfitters and Wet Seal. And even though there were very few women in the boardroom during her tenure at either company, she never let that stop her from succeeding.
McGalla was always taught to never let her gender dictate her future. With her father a coach and growing up with two older brothers, she was always pushed to her full potential.
When speaking at seminars about women in the workplace, McGalla makes a point of telling the audience that companies with gender diversity outperform other companies by 15%. The statistics are twice as high among ethnically diverse companies.
“Companies with diversity bring a multiple of perspectives to the table,” said McGalla.
According to McGalla, although women are making some strides, women who have reached the corporate level in Fortune 500 jobs make up a very small percentage.
She is doing what she can to help women break that glass ceiling. But she says women need more support. While there are a number of groups, networks and classes available to help women, the bottom line is women have to have the support of other women.
The problem is, there aren’t enough women in high places to help. Thankfully, the tide is turning, albeit slowly.
McGalla jumped right in to management right out of college. She began working for Joseph Horne, and soon worked her way into upper management. She moved on to American Eagle Outfitters. Within five years, she was named CEO.
McGalla attributes her rise to the boardroom to hard work and perseverance. She refused to allow herself to be intimidated and insisted that she be treated as an equal peer.
Wise words to women who may sometimes sell themselves short.
Today, McGalla runs her own company — P3 Executive Consulting. She and her team of consultants advises and helps retail businesses achieve success.