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President of Limited Brands Canada Joanne Nemeroff believes that Confidence, Competitiveness and Intuition are Key When Leading Brands for Women

Limited Brands Canada president Joanne Nemeroff on redefining Canada’s retail landscape.

Interview by: Louisa Cohen| Photography by: Kourosh Keshri

You may not have heard of Limited Brands, the less-than- sexy sounding US apparel group. But even if you haven’t shopped at one of the workhorses in its stable of big name badges, you’ve probably heard about how the group is reshaping Canada’s retail landscape.

As parent to household names including La Senza, Bath & Body Works and (a newcomer to the Canadian scene)Victoria’s Secret, Limited Brands is a big noise in the boudoirs of the nation.

Joanne Nemeroff, the current architect of that impact, says that for a new breed of corporate woman, running a multi-brand conglomerate is the perfect fit. “Especially when it comes to leading brands (like ours) that are for women. Our perspective and intuition are powerful, four of our five core brands (are) led by women.”

Appointed president of Limited Brands Canada in 2010 after only a year at the helm of mass-market lingerie brand La Senza, Nemeroff attributes her career trajectory to clear objectives, curiosity, and most importantly she says, being aware of the shadow that you cast – and its potential to motivate and inspire others. At Limited Brands Canada, that means inspiring young women.

“In today’s world, women are given many opportunities and it is up to us as to how we best take advantage of them,” she says. “It’s also about balancing your priorities and determining what “success” looks like for you.”

Nemeroff joined Limited Brands as president of La Senza in 2009, and was named president of Limited Brands Canada in 2010. With 30 plus years of experience behind her, leading from the top of the retail game is by no means foreign to Nemeroff who, before joining Limited Brands has worked at the helm of familiar footwear brands, Aldo, GLOBO, Spring, and Feet First.

Having achieved a fairly rarefied status in Canada’s corporate world, Nemeroff is generous with advice for any women working in or running a business.

“Competitiveness, passion for the business and taking the time to listen have been key factors to my success – along with the desire to want to get better, every day.”

Nemeroff reminds herself to zero-in and identify the few tasks that garner the biggest results. She calls the focus to differentiate among the best advice she’s been given: “It’s as important to know what you’re not going to do, as what you’re going to do’.”

With women now if not commonplace then certainly not strangers to boardrooms across North America, would she agree that the focus on a previous era of “pioneering” corporate roles for women has entered a new phase?

“This phase is about performance,” she says. “Women have reached the boardroom, but more importantly, regardless of role, women can have significant influence in a company’s key direction.

“For example, you can choose to be part of a bigger corporate culture while being the “multi-tasker” at home, or you can choose an entrepreneurial direction that may allow for more flexibility… or any of the opportunities that come in between.”

When it comes to stress on the job, Nemeroff says her solution is to stay curious and aim to get better everyday: “What triggers my stress is when we’re not getting better, when we’re not learning from what we did. Getting better every day is the way you have to look at it, tomorrow is another day and I need to get better tomorrow.”

To that end, Nemeroff says she is constantly charting out the route ahead to where the trend-winds are blowing and what She the everywoman, wants, or will want tomorrow.

“The availability of information is so great that you have to be curious all the time. What’s next – if she’s doing this today, what is she going to do tomorrow?”

Of course, any businesswoman knows that feeling happy and confident at work can often start and stop with feeling confident in her own skin – and according to this intimate apparel entrepreneur – great lingerie is always a fabulous place to start, “there is an emotional experience in lingerie…there is nothing wrong with feeling sexy or confident about yourself.”