Meet Harvard Business School’s MBA Class Of 2020

Bridgette Taylor

Harvard Business School

“Passionate about the retail industry (and shopaholic as well), Netflix junkie, terrible singer.”

Hometown: Darien, Connecticut

Fun Fact About Yourself: I diagnosed my own appendicitis in fourth grade. My doctors originally dismissed my condition as a stomach bug….but as a #Madeline expert, I knew better.

Undergraduate School and Major: Dartmouth College; History modified with Medieval Studies (love me a good Renaissance fair)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Stuart Weitzman; Manager of Business Strategy and Consumer Insights

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I launched the Consumer Insights division at Stuart Weitzman. Because I view (and still view) customer data as the newfound engine of retail business strategy, I proposed to the CEO that Stuart Weitzman build out a dedicated department. At the time of my proposal, Stuart Weitzman store associates tied accurate customer information to only about 30% of transactions, and any reliable data analysis was virtually impossible. After I had peddled my pitch through an array of presentations and meetings,  the CEO gave me the financial resources, the personnel , and a six-month timeline to get it done.

The six-month journey ended with a four-person team, a database of more than 600,000 verifiable customers, and regular weekly customer data reports. Within another six months, the Stuart Weitzman leadership team’s gusto for customer-driven strategy matched my own, and the division became business critical.

Yet perhaps the real accomplishment is that today (and since my departure from the brand), the Consumer Insights group has grown to become much larger than my initial contribution. The team has implemented sophisticated and powerful techniques to analyze and act on customer trends – far outside my knowledge base and basic data understandings. Ironically, I am likely now unqualified to work in the very division that I built.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Curious! I have never met so many people genuinely eager to learn from each other.

Aside from your classmates what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? Harvard has an incredible track record of producing utter game changers in the retail industry (Katrina Lake of Stitch Fix, Jennifer Hyman of Rent the Runway, Marla Beck of Blue Mercury, to name a few). As an aspiring retail leader myself, I can only hope to follow in their footsteps.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Predictably, I am most excited to join the Luxury Retail Club.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I went all in on customer analytics early in my retail career, and as a result, I feared that I had pigeonholed myself. Because I ultimately aspire to lead a retail company, I need to grasp how a business truly works – across all functions. I want an MBA to help me learn, develop, and refine the many areas of retail I do not currently understand – such as operations, marketing, international business, and corporate finance.

What other MBA programs did you apply to?Enough to thoroughly ruin my Labor Day Weekend.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? As it pertains to my career, my defining moment was during my first year out of college. I was in equity research at a bank, covering the information services industry (i.e., Thomson Reuters, Moody’s, FactSet, etc…. a.k.a. an industry far removed from retail). Nevertheless, I initially felt confident that equity research was where I would start and end my career.

Yet my first four months in, I was miserable. I did not find my coverage space interesting enough to engage me for a 40 hour week, let alone the 90-100 hours I was working. This frustration and unhappiness came to a head one Sunday afternoon. I was in the office (of course), and as a result, my (now ex-) boyfriend had no choice but to visit my building in order to unceremoniously dump me.

That day I asked myself why I had sacrificed this relationship for a job I disliked, and I decided if I was going to work my butt off (which I planned to), I might as well do so for a dream that inspired and excited me. I wasted no time, and within a matter of months, I changed the course of my career. I switched banks, landed a job on the luxury retail equity research team, and ultimately joined the corporate world (first Valentino and then Stuart Weitzman). I have found an industry that fascinates and drives me – and I haven’t looked back since.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? My broken track record response: retail, retail, retail.

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