At a recent event in honor of this year’s Commencement, members of the Bowdoin community flocked to Kresge Auditorium to hear honorary degree recipient Rose Marie Bravo talk with Jennifer Scanlon, professor of Gender and Women’s Studies, about leadership in a changing business world. Bravo was named Time magazine’s “most powerful woman in fashion” in 2004, and was listed as one of “The 100 Most Powerful Women in the World” by Forbes in 2005.
The talk was framed in the story of Bravo’s remarkable rise in the world of retail, from her origins as the daughter of Italian immigrants in the Bronx to her position as CEO of the British luxury retailer Burberry. “The audience had so many questions that we couldn’t answer them all,” Scanlon said. “They seemed inspired to take the challenge she offered, to be open to what’s coming next.”
Examining both the successes and failures of her career, Bravo stressed that it’s important to take risks and embrace change, particularly changes related to technology and globalization. On that theme she also addressed issues of women in the workplace. “Diversity is essential as we become more global, and gender is just a piece of it,” she said.