Susan McGalla: An Industry Success

As the president as well as the chief merchandising officer of the teen retailer American Eagle Outfitters, Susan McGalla held a lot of responsibility. When she began working for the company in 1994, it was still largely rooted as being targeted for teen male customers. That really did not matter much to Susan McGalla and this was evident to her co-workers as they seemed to only judge her for her ideas and her performance as opposed to the fact that she is a woman. Before starting her position at American Eagle, she was part of the team at the department store chain Joseph Horne Co. Despite being confident that she wasn’t being judged and did not need to prove herself any more than her male counterparts, she still made sure that she showed up to the meetings for her business trips on time and was never the last one to enter the boardroom.

When Susan McGalla was made the Chief Merchandising Officer of the entire American Eagle brand, she became in charge of merchandising, marketing and design. When the company announced their decision to move their headquarters from Warrendale, Pennsylvania to Pittsburgh in the SouthSide Works complex, she celebrated the important occasion by wearing jeans to the event. This kind of casual dress is something many executives would not have the confidence to do. It paid off for Susan McGalla and impressed Governor Ed Rendell who remarked that he rarely sees presidents in any industry that are so young.

Susan McGalla attributes much of her success to the support and upbringing she experienced from her family. They never expected her to adhere to the gender norms that come along with being a woman. Instead, they taught her to have confidence and to work hard to achieve her goals no matter what they may be.