Life At Macy's ELISA GARCIA

The world of retail is a vast environment with tons of opportunities to learn, grow, and become a leader...

Today we introduce you to one of Fortune Magazine's 50 most powerful Latinas and our Chief Legal Officer Elisa Garcia; and this is her #LifeAtMacys!

What do you love to do outside of Macy's, but aligns with your life within the company?

I enjoy spending time with family and shopping with them is a big plus since I joined Macy’s.

I have mentored young minority lawyers and law students for decades and Macy’s track record of hiring and promoting minority attorneys is something I love. My husband and I have endowed a scholarship at our alma mater St. John’s University for Latina law students. Engaging with our Employee Resource Groups is something I will enjoy.

What motivates and inspires how you as a leader?

“Do it and love it.” I love helping clients find a way to accomplish their objectives and giving my team the information and skills to do so.

How long have you been with Macy’s?

I have only been at Macy’s for six months, but given the perpendicular learning curve it feels much longer.

What makes Macy’s a great place for you to lead and work?

The Legal team is full of smart, dedicated and fun people. Our lawyers, paralegals and support staff have done everything possible to set me up for success. I know we will continue to support Macy’s and be an important part of its future success.

Who did you look up to as you embarked on your journey to be a leader?

I learned from every leader (good and bad) that I ever worked with. Gloria Santaona, the recently retired General Counsel of McDonald’s was a trailblazer for Latina lawyers in corporate America. She has grace, poise and is so very smart. Although I consider her a contemporary, I have always admired her.

What opportunities to grow in your career have you been able to take advantage of?

I was very fortunate to have a boss early in my career that put a roadblock on my growth. That led me to accept a new opportunity, move my family to Michigan and learn more than I ever would have imagined. I got to take a company public, build a Legal team from scratch, lead a business function and become part of a terrific Leadership team.

What is one of your favorite memories from throughout your development as a leader?

I believe that learning the business is critical and the more you know, the better you can serve. So when I worked for a tobacco company – I learned to smoke a cigar; for a pizza company – I learned how to “make it, bake it and take it;” and at Macy’s – I started with being a clown in the 2016 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and visiting stores and our offices in Cincinnati, Mason, Atlanta, John’s Creek, St. Louis and San Francisco. But I still have so much more to learn.

What’s your leadership style?

I’m not sure it has a name, but I like to think that it is empowering, transparent and collaborative. I share a lot of information and I expect my team to use it and be proactive.

When did you realize you were on the path to success?

You cannot be successful without the support of your family. I realized that I was “successful” when I was offered my first General Counsel role and my husband gave up his partnership in a boutique litigation firm so that we could move our family from New York to Michigan.

What advice do you have for those who may be looking to follow in your footsteps?

I have always attributed my success to the fact that I am always ready, willing and able to do whatever needs to get done. The advice I can offer is be prepared to work really hard and try different things. The best way to grow in your career is to learn how to do many different things. If you’re just waiting for your boss to leave to advance your career, you could be waiting a long time. It’s best to be willing to move laterally to other divisions to make yourself more valuable. We must work cross-functionally as an organization and those with skills in more than one area will be the ones who are ready for the big jobs.

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