Marie LeBlanc is a leading fashion executive with a remarkable career spanning several prestigious brands. Currently serving as the CEO of Victoria Beckham since September 2019, she has spent over four years overseeing the brand’s growth and development in the UK and globally. Her impressive resume includes roles at renowned fashion houses, including Printemps, Sonia Rykiel, CELINE, American Retro, and Isabel Marant.
What does good leadership mean to you?
The ability to inspire, set up a vision and drive a team to operate to the best of their ability. It means creating an environment of trust with shared ambitions, supporting and challenging your teams to achieve collectively and up your game consistently.
I believe it comes with passion, determination and requires strength, resilience and a lot of energy.
What is the best example you have seen of Transformational Leadership?
To re-strategise in close collaboration with your teams. Setting the vision and the challenges as the leader but to bounce back ideas with them and make them leaders of the plan.
It is about having the confidence to take risks and trust your instincts, galvanise your teams, give them ownership and empower them to succeed.
What is the most important thing you have learnt in your career so far?
The importance of investing in relationships and understanding people is the key and it takes time.
Being aware of yourself, who you are dealing with. It is not about being right, but being relevant and connected to your audience and the situation.
This is fundamental to operate at your best.
How did you get to where you are today? Did you take a strategic, planned approach to your career or has it been more opportunistic?
I was always passionate about Luxury Fashion, with a structured mindset, and wanted to work in that industry. I did not have an exact career plan but aimed for roles that combined both right and left brain with an entrepreneurial mindset. It took me discipline, hard work and the conviction that I should not compromise on my ambitions. Taking risks, challenging yourself and never settling in a comfort zone is a big part of the journey too.
Is there anything you wish you’d known when you started your career? And anything you would tell yourself at an earlier stage in your career?
To embrace change and unsettling situations, this is the biggest learning opportunity. Trust your instincts to take risks, be clear about your objectives and resilience to navigate through.
What changes to your industry do you anticipate over the next two years and are you excited by this?
I believe the Fashion industry will be much more regulated and CSR will be at the core. I am quite excited by that, beyond sustainable sourcing it means an end-to-end review of the product manufacturing process and more focus on local creative capabilities.
I also think the cross pollination between Fashion, Beauty, Sports, Media and Entertainment industries will continue to accelerate and melt with lifestyle, community and experience – increasingly guiding our consumers behaviours and decisions.
What are your three key priorities in the next 12 months?
Leverage the business to its potential now that we have reached profitability. Our ambition is to double the Revenue in the next three years.
It means geographic expansion and development of the Asian and Middle East markets, while accelerating the promising start of the Leather Goods category.
What type of people do you like to work with and what makes them good leaders?
I am drawn to ambitious people who like to build, have great energy and a spark in the eye. This shall come with a thoughtful and grounded approach: once we have bounced back ideas, we need to articulate a solid plan with a structured mindset.
What fascinates you about your job?
Being a CEO in Luxury Fashion comes with a huge variety of challenges and I am fascinated by the wealth of opportunities and the breadth of skill set that goes with it.
The role mitigates creative and business with international exposure, excellence in product, service and operations to ensure a unique luxurious experience.
It requires to operate in a complex environment, have a global understanding and manage multiple stakeholders to align interests and perform. You can never get bored and the impact you can make to build the business, shape its culture and influence the Brand is really exciting.
As a leader what skills do you continuously work on to keep you at the top of your game?
Many! The discipline to stay calm and make the space to take a step back, the ability to keep a strategic approach and have a longer/pro-active view.
Being self aware is key to not let your views and emotions get in the way of your mission and clearly see the stakes and priorities.
Acting with confidence to inspire and reassure but constantly reinvent yourself to be relevant while being clear and rooted in your DNA.
What is the best way to switch off in your free time?
Sport and meditation – I practice yoga very regularly, it is my routine and that keeps me connected and grounded. I also cycle a lot and love drawing to focus my attention and work on my eye. And of course taking care of my children is what takes the most of my personal time and always puts things back in perspective.