The Hudson’s Bay Company of Canada is one of the oldest companies in North America and was started before the country was even formed. In recent years they have had trouble with many things including their branding. However with the start of Bonnie Brooks in the role of CEO for the company things are looking up.
So how did she do it?
Bonnie has taken a step into the limelight and is the spokesperson for the company in radio ads. She plays up her voice, which she herself says, “a couple of people think that my voice is low and raspy.” However she also cautions that, “the more you put yourself out in the front of the public, the more you open yourself up to opinions.”
These opinions are what she is hoping to change with the sponsorship of the Olympics Canadian Team last year, which saw a surge in customer visitations to the stores. In comparison people are paying up to 10-15% increase in 2010-2011.
Brooks isn’t simply a CEO though, she is a food connoisseur and globe trotter who has helped turn around other ailing brands in the past. She worked at Fairweather clothing, moving to Hold Renfrew, and then off to Lane Crawford Joyce Group in Hong Kong. Brooks is very current and introduces current and trendy brands, and pushing high margin shoes and purses to go with the clothing. Along with this she is reintroducing ecommerce to the store in an attempt to make it more competitive and accessible.
Bonnie is an expert networker and maintains her connections through design houses and former employers throughout the world. She uses these connections and makes new ones by going to industry events like the New York Fashion Show. But she didn’t start big, being born to a normal family in Windsor, Ontario (Canada) and receiving an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario.
One important thing for all women to keep in mind when they look at high powered CEOs and especially the women on top, is that they “always have a game plan in mind. I always knew where I wanted to end up.”