CMO Spotlight Interview


This week, we’re turning the spotlight onto Dee Mc Laughlin, VP of Global Marketing at Forever 21.

This week, we’re turning the spotlight onto Dee Mc Laughlin, VP of Global Marketing at Forever 21.

1. What was your first (or favorite) job you’ve had?  

Dee McLaughlin, VP of Global Marketing, Forever 21
Dee McLaughlin, VP of Global Marketing, Forever 21

My first job was sweeping up hair at a local hair salon at age 16. When I got promoted to shampooing I was thrilled! After that, I worked at a shoe store. I’ve always had jobs that were customer focused.

2. What are the 3 most important components for your personal and professional success?

Being fearless has made me a better creative. Being agile has allowed me to move very quickly in our rapidly evolving marketing landscape. Being curious has sent me down many interesting paths in my life.

3. Name an “inflection point” experience that prepared you for your current position as a Head of Marketing.

I believe the foundation for realizing the life you want is to notice, create, and seize inflection points, instead of waiting for them to happen to you. My own career path is definitely not a straight line. At Virgin I started in e-com, and realized that I loved all the things that the marketing team was doing. So I put a proposal together on how I could help that team and asked to meet with the CMO.

The feeling that came with that sea change was exhilarating! I have come to realize that it is dangerous not to do what you love because if you don’t have passion to drive your daily thinking, there will be others who will overtake and outrun you. There’s an insightful book called Built to Last by Jim Collins that sums this up nicely: “Loving what you do is a competitive imperative, not simply a nice thing to have.”

4. What characteristics do you value most when hiring new marketing talent for your team?

Beyond skills, I look for passion, teamwork and humility. People with these qualities stay on top of trends, keep morale and motivation high and take pride in the outcome of their team’s work.

5. What technology are you looking forward to using or implementing for your brand in the next six months?

We are still more facile with data capture than data crunching. This year we are applying advanced analytics to gain a 360-degree view of our customers.

6. Which book would you recommend to your fellow Heads of Marketing right now?

Give & Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant.

This Wharton professor will fundamentally change the way you think about success.

7. Name one Head of Marketing who impresses you today and tell us why. 

Jonathan Mildenhall has transformed Airbnb’s image from startup to major player. I loved the brand’s TV campaign with the copy that “mankind, womankind, transkind, humankind” are all part of Airbnb’s community. So of-the-moment.

8. Do you have a personal mantra, words of wisdom or favorite inspirational quote? 

“Get comfortable being uncomfortable.” I recognize it as a sign that I am growing and learning. I’m a big believer in that all personal and professional growth is dependent upon pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone.