Career Advice from the President of Abercrombie & Fitch
Opening Doors in Retail Marketing
Fran Horowitz, GABELLI MBA ’90
President and Chief Merchandising Officer
Abercrombie & Fitch
1. Get your foot in the door.
Because the world of retail doesn’t always offer a defined path, be willing to roll up your sleeves in your first role. Be flexible with your initial placement in order to learn about the industry. Retailers always are looking for smart, hardworking individuals, but they’ll want you to learn how they operate before you step into a more strategic role. Don't get discouraged—embrace it. This is your chance to get to know how the business and culture work, learn about your customer, and ask a lot of questions. By learning about the inner workings of a company, your ideas will have more impact and will be accepted more consistently. Career paths in retail can have fast trajectories but are often winding. Enjoy the ride and learn as much as you can in each role along the way.
2. Earnings calls are excellent for interview prep.
For retail positions, there are a lot of resources available to you before you step into the interview room. If you are applying to a publicly traded company, listen to its last few earnings calls, which are available online. These will give you a sense of the organization’s leaders and culture—you can pick up a lot from how the leaders field questions. You will get a sense of what is important to the organization, its strategy for future growth, and its key priorities for the year. As you prepare for your interview, consider how you can contribute to this organization achieving its objectives.
3. Get to know the customer.
If you are looking to work in fashion—or any area of retail—it is a “must” to shop online and in stores prior to your interview. Pay attention to displays and product placements: What is being communicated to the customer? Assess pricing, quality, and design relative to the competition: How is the brand positioned in the market? Pay attention to how customers shop the store: Are there ways to improve their experience? Note where there are strengths or opportunities, and come to the interview prepared to share your ideas!
Fran Horowitz became president and chief merchandising officer of Abercrombie & Fitch in 2015. She first joined the company as brand president of Hollister in 2014, moving from Ann Taylor Loft, where she also held the role of brand president. Her prior career included nearly eight years at Express, where she rose to become executive vice president of women’s merchandising and design, and 13 years in various merchandising roles at Bloomingdale’s. Before that, she worked in buying positions at Bergdorf Goodman, Bonwit Teller and Saks Fifth Avenue. She is a graduate of Lafayette College and received her MBA from Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business.