CEO of Tommy Hilfiger returns to the place where it all began

Megan Hays, Staff Writer

When Gary Sheinbaum ’79, the current CEO of Tommy Hilfiger Americas, began the search for his future career here in Lewisburg, he was uncertain where his academic path would take him. In a Sept. 22 “interview-style” talk led by Interim Dean of Management Michael Johnson-Cramer in Trout Auditorium, Sheinbaum recalled another interview he had while attending the University. Sheinbaum explained that it was during an interview with the department store chain Macy’s that he was shown exactly which career path he wanted to pursue.

Sheinbaum worked for Macy’s New York in various merchandising positions for the first eight years of his career before becoming the managing director of Polo Mansion and the president of J.Crew retail for five years. In 1995, he joined Tommy Hilfiger Americas and has been the CEO since September 2014.

The talk was part of the annual Walling Lecture Series, which is sponsored by the School of Management.

Throughout the talk, Sheinbaum not only discussed his career milestones, but also outlined the values that led him to success.

“Be true to yourself. Be true to your brand,” Sheinbaum said.

“He reminded the students to live in the present and avoid being so consumed with what has or will happen that they forget to appreciate their current experiences and opportunities,” Associate Professor of Management Matthew Bailey said.

Sheinbaum shared the necessary characteristics to being successful: having empathy, being humorous, keeping balance, and staying true to who you are. He advised students to take chances and jump at opportunities, such as learning a new language or studying abroad in a foreign country.

The questions Johnson-Cramer asked throughout the interview unraveled the many layers of what defines Sheinbaum’s business, Tommy Hilfiger Americas. Sheinbaum explained that his brand is trying to tell a story–it is more than just a clothing line.

“We see ourselves as an optimistic, inclusive brand. Quality and character are very important to us,” Sheinbaum said.

Along with its mission, he explained to students the details of working as the CEO of a major company. He talked of the mutual importance of  macro- and micro-managing, the significance of global alignment of international stores, and the necessity of adapting for new generations.

“Gary Sheinbaum’s discussion perfectly summed up the four majors of the Management School and their relevance in today’s world; it is not just about focusing on one academic area in the workplace, it is about interdisciplinary studies coming together,” Mary Catherine Jones ’20 said.

Sheinbaum also emphasized the importance of developing a specific skill set and integrating it into your profession. He believes that in the present world, thinking in new, fresh, and innovating ways is crucial for personal and professional development. When asked by the audience what he looks for in the hiring process, he repeatedly emphasized the ability to work efficiently as a part of a team.

He concluded his talk with the story behind his partnership with “Runway of Dreams,” a non-profit organization devoted to creating appealing clothing for children with physical disabilities.

“Partnerships such as these provide an example for students to consider how they may later be the ones to create a positive change in unconventional ways,” Bailey said.

Reflecting on his return to the University, Sheinbaum was impressed with the students who he “found to be engaging and intellectually curious” and the faculty who “exuded a genuine sense of commitment and pride.”

“It is clear that when students and faculty love where they are and what they are doing, good things happen,” Sheinbaum said.

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