Women Worth Watching 2015
President “Makes More Happen” for Staples across North America
Shira joined Staples in 1992 and has held a number of leadership positions across the company. Before stepping into her current role, she served as executive vice president of Staples Global Growth group, where she was responsible for identifying and developing new sources of growth and driving Staples best growth ideas across the company. In that role, Shira led the development and launch of Staples Reinvention, as well as the company’s highly successful “Make More Happen” branding campaign.
Earlier in her career, Shira led the company’s global HR strategies and programs as executive vice president of human resources, and oversaw marketing, advertising, public relations, and charitable giving programs as Staples’ executive vice president of marketing.
“…I also learned the value of a great coach.”
“It was perhaps my biggest career leap,” said Shira of that leadership role. “I had never had a marketing job of this scope before. I learned how to rely on other members of the team who had much deeper expertise. I also learned the value of a great coach. Tom Stemberg, Staples Founder and a brilliant marketing mind, met with me weekly to discuss our work. It was an incredible learning opportunity.”
Shira led the company’s global business integration efforts following the company’s acquisition of Corporate Express in 2008, and has held senior executive positions in the delivery business units, which serve business customers of all sizes. She is also a member of the board of directors of CarMax, Inc.
Shira holds a Master of Management Science degree (with a concentration in strategy and marketing) from MIT’s Sloan School of Management, a JD from Harvard Law School, and a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University.
Education: MSM, Sloan School of Management; JD, Harvard Law School; BA, Princeton University
First Job: Waitressing in a local deli
What I’m Reading: “The Confidence Code” by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman (after hearing the author at the Simmons College Women’s Leadership Conference)
The most important quality a woman leader should have is…
The career advice I’d give my former self:
Words I live by:
Three things leaders need to say more: I was wrong. I don’t know. I need your help
The one thing I would do differently in my career, knowing what I know now, is…
…spend time at an office away from the corporate office. I have done this in brief spurts but never for long periods of time. Stepping away from the corporate office helps gain a different perspective and develop empathy for associates in the field.
When I really need to focus on a project, I…
…I sit in a quiet room or on an airplane or in my favorite chair at home with a blank notepad and a really good pen. And, then I just scribble and write until I get the key questions clear in my mind and come up with my hypotheses and some possible actions. Then, I talk to a wide range of folks to get their reactions. They always make it better—either by tearing it apart or building upon it.
My biggest career leap (and what I learned from it) was…
…leading marketing for Staples. I had never had a marketing job of this scope before. I learned how to rely on other members of the team who had much deeper expertise. I also learned the value of a great coach. Tom Stemberg, Staples Founder and a brilliant marketing mind, met with me weekly to discuss our work, which was an opportunity for me to learn.
Being a woman in my profession has…
…had its moments. In particular when my three kids were young and I was moving into new roles. I felt like I was scoring a B (at best) in everything. At one point, I decided I needed to leave Staples. But once I made that decision, I realized that I wanted to work, not that I needed to work. So I never left! Just knowing that I could walk away made me realize how much I would have missed working. Today, my kids are grown and I can see that not having me around all the time was probably the best thing for them. I also love the fact that they gravitate to women in the workplace.
I’ve learned that failure is…
…a very good thing. It strengthens us and proves to ourselves that we are pushing our thoughts and actions to new places. I celebrate failures of our team today. However, I must admit, it took me a while to get there.
I maintain a healthy personal life by…
… spending time with my husband of thirty years and three grown children. They calm me when I am stressed and constantly encourage me in everything I do. They are my personal cheering squad.
I knew my present career was what I wanted to do when…
…I never really had a clear career path to become a general manager of a multi-billion dollar business. I always felt that the job I had was the best job in the company. I focused on doing it as well as I could–building strategies, developing culture and grooming talent. Focusing on what I could control, led me to the next role. Of course, I have mentors and coaches across Staples to thank as well!