A few years into working in investment banking, Lauren Ginsberg decided to switch gears and pursue a career change. Returning to NC State, where she completed a bachelor’s degree in business administration, Ginsberg joined the inaugural class for the Global Luxury and Management Program, a dual master’s degree program through the Poole College of Management and the Skema Business School.
“After a few years working for a large investment bank in futures and options trading, I found the job to be too robotic and wanted to explore something that would allow me to have more creative license,” Ginsberg says. “I thought about getting an MBA, but my love for the luxury industry swayed my decision to join the GLAM program instead.”
For Ginsberg, GLAM was the best of both worlds – offering an academic experience that allowed her to combine finance with creativity.
“I really enjoyed the diverse learning experience – a curriculum that overlapped MBA, design and textile course material,” she says. “And I loved being part of the inaugural class. As there were only 18 of us, we were exceptionally close, experiencing it all together for the first time.”
Since graduating from GLAM, Ginsberg has spent nearly seven years with Gap, Inc., working as a leader with four of the company’s brands – Banana Republic, Weddington Way, Intermix and Athleta.
Today, she is a general manager for Athleta’s Hudson Yards store in New York City. While it has the fewest square feet of Athleta’s 199 store locations, the store holds a strategic position in Hudson Yards’ luxury shopping environment.
In addition to overseeing her own four walls, Ginsberg leverages opportunities to lead externally, as well.
“I act as the talent ambassador for the district, supporting centralized staffing,” she says. “Recently, I’ve also taken on creating and facilitating a training and development academy for leaders across the Tri-State area.”
Working in the retail industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, she says, has grown her appreciation for Athleta and its product line.
“The last year has been very difficult on the retail industry. It makes me both grateful and proud to work in the luxury athletic sector and for a company that remains in a growth trajectory, when so many of its retail peers are closing their doors,” she says. “The reality is that as people work from home, they are looking for a completely different wardrobe than they were 12 months ago. Athleta makes beautiful, technical and sustainable clothing that can be functionally worn in every aspect of life.”
For Ginsberg, working with Athleta is more than an opportunity to work with a luxury brand – it’s also a chance to identify with a mission.
“Athleta’s brand mission is to empower women and girls to live their limitless potential – which speaks to me as a female leader. In keeping with this mission, we offer an inclusive shopping experience with inclusive sizing and unbiased shopping,” Ginsberg says. “And as a B-Corporation, Athleta focuses its energy on people and planet over profit. It’s highly focused on sustainability – which is something important to the Athleta customer.”
Her time in GLAM, she says, prepared her to excel in her career and be a leader within the luxury industry.
Since graduating eight years ago from GLAM, Ginsberg has remained close to the program. In 2019, she returned to Poole College as a guest lecturer for the Wells Fargo Executive Leadership Series, teaching undergraduate, graduate and GLAM students about B-Corps by sharing Athleta’s journey through B-Lab’s rigorous certification process.
Staying close to GLAM has also given her the opportunity to see the program grow.
“My experience in the inaugural class is so different from that of students in the program today. GLAM has evolved so much – I almost wish I could do the program again.”
For current students, Ginsberg passes along a piece of advice that was once given to her.
“Your first job isn’t as important as the job it will lead you to next.”
This post was originally published in Poole College of Management News.