How Susan McGalla Got Ahead In Male Dominated Industries

Studies have shown that businesses which are more diverse are more successful. Whether it is gender diversity or ethnic diversity companies do better vs. their less diverse competitors. The reason for this seems to be that diverse companies are more willing to listen to new ideas and implement them. It also brings in more perspectives. Despite all of the advantages of diversity top executive positions at S&P 500 companies are filled by men while women are only represented by a small fraction.

One woman that has cracked into C-level positions at S&P 500 companies is Susan McGalla. She credits her childhood for this, having grown up with two brothers and a father who coached football. She was held to the same standards as her brothers and not given any slack just because she was a girl. This experience taught her to work for what she wanted which she has used to be highly successful in business.

One company that Susan McGalla was a top executive at was American Eagles Outfitters. She says that when she first started there every single executive was a man. She worked her way up and earned the position of president nonetheless. She was also the chief executive officer of The Wet Seal, Inc. which was also predominantly male-led.

While women leadership initiatives can help, Susan McGalla doesn’t think they’re the answer because they’ve been around for years and yet the situation remains the same. She says one solution that could work executive sponsorship where highly career-minded women have an executive sponsor to help her build opportunities to advance.

Susan McGalla now works for The Pittsburgh Steelers, LLC, a football team she joined in February 2015. She is the vice president of business strategy and creative development. In this role, she is responsible for developing the overall strategy of the company behind the football team and their marketing efforts. Also, she serves the University of Pittsburg where she is on the board of trustees. She also serves the University of Pittsburg Cancer Institute where she provides her business and leadership skills by having a seat on their council.