Susan McGalla, no challenge too daunting

Susan McGalla on ireport.cnn, is an America businesswoman from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is the founder of P3 Executive Consulting, LLC, on the board of HFF Inc. (a commercial real estate service company), on the board of the Magee-Womens Hospital Foundation and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Director of Strategic Planning and Growth. McGalla has been the president of American Eagle Outfitters Inc. and the CEO of Wet Seal Inc. and was formerly a director of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and a trustee of the University of Pittsburgh.

McGalla was born and raised in Ohio, and attended Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in business and marketing. McGalla remains on Mount Union College’s Board of Advisors. McGalla lives in Pittsburgh and is married to Stephen McGalla, a wealth manager.

In 1986, after college McGalla began at Joseph Horne Company, working in marketing and managerial roles. In 1994, Susan McGalla began at American Eagle Outfitters as a merchandise buyer for women’s clothing and worked for the American Eagle brand, AEO’s flagship imprint. She continued in managerial roles ultimately becoming American Eagle’s president and chief merchandising officer (CMO) until she became president and CMO of the entire company. As CMO she was responsible for the overall profit and loss, revenues of $3B, four total brands and an e-commerce site. American Eagles also launched two new brands during McGalla’s tenure as company president, Aerie and 77kids.

In 2009 McGalla left American Eagle Inc. to become a consultant in the retail and finance industries. She was appointed to the Board of Directors of HFF Inc. in October 2009.

In 1994 McGalla was not challenged by the American Eagle Outfitters brand being known as an activewear line focused on male customers. Yet McGalla felt American Eagle management was judging her on the value of her ideas, despite being male-dominated in the offices and boardroom. When a new store opened on Pittsburgh’s South Side to much fanfare, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell remarked on the rarity of seeing such a young president, not a female one.

McGalla does not consider herself a “female executive” but an executive who happens to be a woman. Citing her two older brothers and football coach father, she grew up taught that she was a person rather than a man or a woman. Her family helped her have confidence in herself, so she never felt a need to “play the woman card”.

McGalla often speaks to groups about this style of presenting oneself. As a woman she never a chip on her shoulder about what she expected or how she expected to be treated, and she is well aware of the zeitgeist for equality. But McGalla offers a practical perspective, not industry buzzwords when presenting to such audiences as the Women and Girl’s Foundation of Pittsburgh and at the Carnegie Mellon University Speaker Series for CEOs about achieving in business, and not just “for a woman.”

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