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Meet Joanne Nemeroff: International Retail Leader

Joanne Nemeroff is an international retail leader who has led the revitalization, reconstruction, and growth of well-known brands such as La Senza and Holt Renfrew. A bilingual Corporate Director and frequent business traveler, Joanne currently serves on the board for a multitude of brands including Frank and Oak and Weizmann Canada. Drawing on her financial expertise and career P&L responsibility, Joanne brings strategic oversight and insights that benefit the bottom-line. She was the retail architect behind the ongoing integration of Holt Renfrew and Ogilvy in Montreal, and has led sourcing, buying, and franchisee trips to international locales ranging from Europe, Asia to the Middle East – all with a strong sense of urgency balanced with a long-term profit view. Joanne has travelled the world for business and has three wonderful children whom have found great success in their own lives as entrepreneurs.




My first job ever was… Working as a guide at Expo 67. Montreal, to me, was the center of the world that year. It was about meeting new people, having fun and enjoying a wonderful summer. I realized I loved working with people and wanted to find more ways of meeting and surpassing their expectations.

I chose my career path because… After graduating from McGill, I took a summer holiday to Los Angeles and stayed with family friends who owned a fashion retail store. I worked within the market and learned about the world of fashion and how thrilling this business could be. My plan had been to return to Montreal and continue my education, joining a fall semester at a teacher’s college. Instead, I took the last of my savings and enrolled in Lasalle College to study fashion retailing. It was a huge risk but I have never looked back.

My proudest accomplishment is…

I have a two-part answer to this question:

  1. A) My role as President of Limited Brands Canada, which came late in my career and was an opportunity that I never thought I would have. I was working with a renowned US retailer and raising my own bar for success.
  2. B) My ability to balance a happy personal life with a busy career. My three children are passionate and successful in their own careers far from the world of retailing, and my husband to this day, maintains an active professional life. We are a close and multi-faceted family.

My boldest move to date… I had a very successful job as the President of Pennington’s, where I had worked with my team to transform the company from a bankrupt retailer to a highly profitable chain that had grown to 100 stores. But I was in my safety zone of women’s fashion apparel so I chose to leave the clothing industry and accept the challenge of Group Vice President at the Aldo Group, where I had the opportunity to expand internationally and bring fast fashion to the shoe industry in the Spring division.


Find the business or subject you are passionate about AND can earn a living doing. Recognize that others are a key component to your success and listen.


I surprise people when I tell them… I am still curious and fascinated by what retail model will be successful in the future. I continue to work in the industry as a board member, consultant, coach and mentor. I feel that my role as a mentor of other women will be my biggest legacy.

My best advice to people starting their career is… Find the business or subject you are passionate about AND can earn a living doing. Recognize that others are a key component to your success and listen.

My best advice from a mentor was… Be true to yourself and work well with others.

I would tell my 20 year old self… Take the time to enjoy the moment (I took 2 weeks for each of my 3 maternity leaves).

My biggest setback was…When I moved from retail to the wholesale world, where I quickly realized I was not in control of my success no matter how hard I worked. The retail buyers were in control. And I overcame it by admitting and realizing I had made a mistake and quickly readjusted by moving back to the retail world.

If I had an extra hour in the day I would… Exercise more, practice yoga and meditation.

The last book I read… Almost is Not Good Enough : How to Win or Lose in Retail by Andrew Jennings.

I stayed inspired by… The young entrepreneurs I work with…Ethan at Frank and Oak, Emmanuel at Aldo, Mark at Ardene, Stephen and Jaffray at NewKnow, Marie and Clarissa at Enamour and Feel Good

The future excites me because… Change is happening quickly and I think women can compete very effectively in this new world.

My next step is… To continue to be part of the new retailing however it evolves in the capacity of advisor, mentor, coach and consultant.