Who would’ve known a girl from lil ol’ Pennsylvania was going to move across the globe to Hong Kong and work for Calvin Klein as their Chief Brand Officer? I can sure as hell tell you that’s not a bet I would’ve made. This woman exemplifies facing your fears with courage and tenacity. She is a force to be reckoned with. Meet Liz Edmiston.
Liz graduated from Lehigh University with a bachelor’s degree in International Careers. After graduation, she faced three options: a) work for Bloomingdales in their executive training program in New York City, b) work for a paper company with AMAZING benefits, or c) work as a traditional consultant in one of the Big six accounting firms. Many post-grad college students just want one thing, a job. Liz took a different approach, she wanted to be passionate about her work. So, she went with the lowest paying job in one of the most expensive cities, which ultimately led to the start of her career as a Buyer. I think we can all agree that we want to be just as courageous as Liz was at our age.
She went on to gain valuable experience in the retail industry working for major retailers such as Old Navy and Gap, landing her first leadership position at Polo Ralph Lauren as Vice President of Merchandising for women, children, and accessories. She then held various leadership positions for Victoria Secret, Tory Burch, White House Black Market, and finally, Calvin Klein. Can you imagine if Liz had chosen the safe and more traditional role?
“My father could have been a great comedian but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him, and so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant and when I was 12 years old he was let go from that safe job, and our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father. Not the least of which was that: You can fail at what you don’t want. So, you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” ― Jim Carrey
I couldn’t have said it any better myself. If you want to learn how Liz faced her fears and took control of her future, keep reading-
How did you know? (Regarding career choice)
Liz believed exposing herself to as much as possible was crucial to her career journey. In college, she decided to study abroad first in Guatemala and then in Ghana, even after her parents explicitly forbid it (due to some safety concerns) and threatened not to pay the tuition. Can you take a guess at what Liz did?
When Liz faced three options post-grad, she decided to choose what she loved. Although she did a lot of research, everything pointed her in the same direction. When you think about it, you spend a lot of time at a job and your coworkers become your home away from home. So, Liz wanted to enjoy the hours upon hours she’d be working. And because she was good at it, she was successful.
“Maybe you will be just okay if you take the position with more money but you will be great if you do something you love.”
Did you have any pre-conceived notions going into the workforce? If so, what were they?
If you ever think back to high school you might feel one of two things, nostalgia or relief. You might also remember the petty drama, heart-wrenching breakups, and the gross lunch menu. Well, Liz has a newsflash for us all, the petty drama has its place in the real world and it’s called office politics.
Unfortunately, if you do good work it still doesn’t mean you will succeed. It’s not always about working harder but working smarter. You need to be strategic when joining the leadership team in an organization. Remember, not everyone is rooting for you to succeed. Liz said that you need to be your own cheerleader. You also need to advocate for yourself as hard as it can be sometimes.
“You’re with the world leaders and it’s the same politics, same problems, and same people.” – Former President Barack Obama
How do you stay motivated?
Liz has a curiosity for what’s new and what’s next. She gets inspired by many things such as watching movies, reading books, and hanging out with friends.
“Find what spurs your creativity and makes you energetic.”
Sometimes she likes to unplug and not work at all and other times she’s so into her work that she works weekends.
“There is no work/life balance.”
When you feel yourself getting burned out then you need to take the time to recharge. Self-care looks different for everyone, for me, it’s putting a face mask on and watching a cheesy rom-com with a glass of wine.
You might think of Liz as some big hot shot industry leader, which she is, but she’s also that girl who needs a break from reality every once in a while, who reaches for candy and a cliché movie. You’re Liz and I am Liz. We’re all just college students without a clue where to start our lives. I’m sure you have a passion for something and if Liz taught us anything, it’s to pursue your passion. Anyone can work a mediocre job but only go-getters turn their dreams into their reality.