WHO SHE IS: Kelly McGinnis, Chief Communications Officer, Levi Strauss & Company

SUCCESS STORY: Still a work in progress. My biggest career opportunities have come when I let go of whatever I was afraid to lose – a job, a title, whatever.

WORK SCHEDULE:  Full time, but my eye’s on my phone 24/7 given the dynamics of our business and my role, with regular early morning & evening calls (mostly to stay in touch with Europe and Asia).

KIDS: Two girls — Meg, 5 & Bix, 3

SANITY VICE: Sleep. I get up early but I’m always in bed by 11.

BEST TIME-MANAGEMENT TIP: Drink your vegetables. We drink smoothies every morning. I love my Vitamix!

GO-TO TECH: Waze. San Francisco traffic is so unpredictable; I don’t try to drive more than five blocks without getting the fastest route from Waze.


5 Questions for Kelly

1. First things first – what jeans are you wearing these days?

16_WALL_OF_JEANS_0293I wear Levi’s every day. My favorites are Levi’s Made & Crafted boyfriend jeans, but I wear Levi’s Revel to work most days. They have shaping technology built in, meaning I get a tailored look with the comfort of yoga pants.

2. You were with Dell for many years before joining Levi Strauss & Co. What’s it like switching from technology to retail?

Every business is more complex than it looks. It’s been interesting to learn a new category. While the communications issues and challenges are similar, the vocabulary, business processes, even the functions are different. I know that my contributions are directly tied to how well I understand the dynamics of the business, so I’ve been asking a lot of questions – and visiting a lot of stores.

3. I love the story that in 1897, Levi Strauss, the founder of the company, donated scholarship funds to UC Berkeley and stipulated that half of the money be for women. How does the company support women today – internally and externally?

Like you said we have a long history of supporting women. Not only did we invent the blue jean, we introduced the first jeans for women in 1934. In 1991, we were the first multinational apparel company to introduce health, safety and environmental standards at our factories where nearly all the workers are women. And in 2010, we were one of the first companies to sign the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles. Today we’re taking that commitment further by piloting efforts to improve workers’ well-being beyond the factory doors. We’re supporting health education, financial training and harassment prevention.

4. I’m asking everyone today how they “work smart” as a means to foster their own work & family flexibility. Are you doing anything new or interesting along these lines?

It has taken a little time to find my rhythm in a new job. In my previous role, I worked on central time but lived on the West Coast, so I’d start early and get a couple of quiet hours at the end of the day to catch up. Now I’m working in the same time zone where I live so I’ve lost that advantage. In terms of working smart, I try to be deliberate about my calendar, preserving time for being externally engaged, holding time to get work done and making sure I’m investing my time in the relationships that make a difference for our team’s success.

5. What’s the media missing about working moms, in your opinion?

Great question. I think it’s a question of nuance. We’re all just trying to do our best by our kids, be present when we’re with them, help them grow up to be interesting people and keep some semblance of ourselves. It’s harder than it looks. One of the best pieces I’ve read on the topic was Sylvia Ann Hewlett’s On Roads and Off Ramps. She writes about women’s need for brief periods (2-3 years) of flexibility and how the companies who provide it, earn intense loyalty. It’s one of the reasons Maybrooks makes so much sense.

5+. What advice do you live by as a working mom?

Have a great spouse or partner, one who wants to be engaged and involved. My husband does more than his fair share of care. I’m grateful that he values the time he spends with our girls.