The Life and Career of Susan McGalla

Susan McGalla‘s resume boasts a long and successful career in business. After graduating from Mount Union College with a bachelor’s degree in business and marketing in 1986, Susan put her new skills to good use and jumped right into the job market. In June of 1986, Susan began her first job in business at the Joseph Horne Company. During her years with the company, she did marketing work for them while working her way up the ranks of management. In January of 1994, she accepted a job with American Eagle Outfitters as a merchandise buyer. This marked the beginning of Susan’s prosperous time with the company.

Initially, the focus of American Eagle Outfitters was on men’s clothing. The evolution of the company’s gender focus can be attributed to Susan’s influence. In spite of the company’s limited focus on women’s clothing, Susan was determined to expand their focus in order to attract female customers. Gradually, the company introduced more products aimed at women, such as a line of lingerie, that led to the influx of female customers. Susan’s efforts at diversifying the company led to her promotion to Chief Merchandising Officer and President of the retailer in January of 2003.

Even though Susan has become well-known for her efforts to expand the women’s clothing market, she takes a unique stance regarding her views on gender and business. She maintains that while her gender has been a factor in certain aspects of her career, such as the expansion of the women’s clothing market, she has not been defined by it and her success has not been dependent on it. According to Susan, gender has never been a factor in regards to how she is perceived by her associates, nor has it been a factor in how she perceives them. Susan attributes this attitude to her upbringing.

Many women might consider growing up in a primarily male family to be a disadvantage, but Susan maintains that this aspect of her childhood was a benefit to her. Her sports-oriented father and two brothers treated her without regard to her gender. Her recollection regarding this aspect of her upbringing is entirely positive in the respect that she was treated as a person rather than a gender model. She also cites her diverse array of interests from fashion and shopping to sports as a credit to her interaction with people, since she can hold a conversation with anyone about either.

At present, Susan lives in Pittsburgh doing work as an independent consultant.