Qurate’s Mary Campbell on Leading the Company’s New Digital Streaming Division

As part of FN’s annual Women in Power issue, we asked 15 footwear execs who have stepped into prominent new roles this year to talk about overcoming obstacles and their advice for the next generation.

A 20-year veteran of the QVC network, Mary Campbell was promoted in March to oversee a new business unit at Qurate Retail Group that is exploring new initiatives in streaming and live video commerce.

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As president of vCommerce Ventures, Campbell will accelerate the company’s digital live streaming shopping beyond QVC’s and HSN’s traditional multiplatform experiences, capitalizing on interactive opportunities with partners like Roku, Comcast X1, Xfinity Flex and others.

When it comes to driving this innovation, Campbell said the company’s deep experience in live shopping will be an asset. “We’re in a unique position of strength as more and more retailers and brands are adopting live video and as we continue to expand the reach of our streaming service,” she said.

But change is essential in today’s hyper-digital landscape, and the vCommerce Ventures group aims to be a “source of innovation and a catalyst for growth.”

“My team is focused on our unique strengths, the ability to stay agile, test new initiatives and learn from the data to grow and improve,” said Campbell.

Here, the executive shares some of the career wisdom she’s relying on to chart this new course for the company.

My leadership mantra:

“Leadership is about cultivating an environment that allows team members to be at their best, so they can give their best. We have a mantra that we remind our team members about frequently: ‘Come As You Are.’ We encourage everyone to be their authentic selves. This enables me, as a leader, to see my team’s passion, aspiration and their individual ‘super power’ so that I can help them be successful, remove obstacles, create resources and support their individual creativity.”

The most significant career barrier I’ve faced and how I overcame it:

“Like so many businesses across the globe, the pandemic created an immediate need for a change in the way we operate. For video commerce leaders and broadcasters like QVC and HSN, it specifically impacted how we typically broadcast with hosts and guests at our studios. We were tasked with the challenge of adhering to social distancing protocols (keeping our team members and guests’ health and safety first and foremost) while also keeping our customers engaged, providing them the right products at the right time. Though such a challenge at the time to shift the entire way we operate, this turned into a great learning experience for my team and me. As our customers continue to remind us, our programming is a welcome respite from the challenges of everyday life. We received incredible feedback on having our guests (and even, hosts) join our programming through Skype from the comfort of their homes, giving customers a more personal view of their lives during such unusual times. With customer engagement at the core of our brands, this challenge was a reminder of the importance of connection — between team members, our customers and communities.”

Advice for women starting out in their careers:

“Careers have more twists and turns than you’d ever imagine! Don’t be afraid to take risks and always look for opportunities that will really challenge you. Be confident enough in yourself to step out of your comfort zone and you’ll never be disappointed. You’ll grow, learn more about yourself and your colleagues and learn more about the business you’re in. When you feel uncomfortable, that’s when you know you are growing. It’s so important to gain exposure to a variety of business facets, so don’t silo yourself to one area only. Throughout my 20+ plus years with QVC/Qurate Retail Group, I have held roles in merchandising, planning and commerce platforms, making several lateral moves to learn about all facets of our business. If you want to stand out, demonstrate genuine interest in the whole business. Career development is a marathon, not a sprint, and I always encourage others to stay curious and take risks, even if that means deviating from your original career path.”

One thing I wish someone had told me:

“Know, and stand by, your core values — meaning what’s important and what you value most. Ensure that your role (and company) aligns with these values and the work you’re doing allows you to connect with these values. If not, consider exploring something new.”

The leader who has had the biggest impact on me:

“I’ve been very lucky to work with truly smart, creative and passionate people throughout my career. My network is the result of a culture of true engagement across all levels of our organization. We’ve built a business on relationships and that starts within the walls of Qurate Retail Group. My peers across QRG have helped me in countless ways over the years and provided me with support, encouragement, constructive feedback and lots of learning.”

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