Editor’s Note: Following is an excerpt of a message that Michelle Gass sent to LS&Co. employees on her first day as CEO.
Today marks not just my first day as CEO but the beginning of a new chapter for all of us at LS&Co. I’m honored and humbled to be stepping into this role and excited about the future of this iconic company.
Over the past year I’ve learned just how special LS&Co., its employees and its brands are. I’ve met with stylists, distribution center teams and corporate employees from more than 15 markets. These interactions have underscored that we are so much more than a denim company — we are stewards of a legacy crafted through decades of commitment to quality, durability and style, underpinned by a guiding philosophy of profits through principles.
We have achieved so much already, thanks to the generations before us — most recently, Chip’s leadership and the hard work and dedication of each of you. I came to LS&Co. because of what you’ve built and because of the tremendous opportunity I see to help write the next chapter of this 170-year-old company, build deeper connections with consumers around the world and apply all my experience to help LS&Co. grow. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to do incredibly rewarding work. I’m exactly where I’m meant to be.
From my first day, I’ve been blown away by how inclusive and welcoming everyone is. It’s been inspiring to see how committed employees around the world are to our values, our brands and each other. We have the warm culture that comes with a company where everyone knows each other, yet we have the reach and might of a big, global brand — one that people around the world love and admire. I hear time and again from LS&Co. employees that they feel a tremendous sense of pride and belonging. I do, too. I love this brand and this company and am committed to honoring what’s great about our culture.
To ensure we keep the brand and the consumer at the center of everything we do, I’m expanding the executive leadership team (ELT). I’m pleased to announce that Chief Marketing Officer Kenny Mitchell will be joining the ELT, along with Dawn Vitale, who is being promoted to Chief Merchandising Officer. We will also be hiring a new president and chief commercial officer (CCO), reporting to me, who will be responsible for shaping our global commercial strategy and accelerating growth for the Levi’s® brand. Reporting to the CCO will be our regional managing directors; in the interim, the MDs will continue reporting to me. And lastly, as was shared a little over a week ago, I am excited to welcome incoming Beyond Yoga® CEO Nancy Green to the ELT starting Thursday.
Here’s what you can expect from me: I will lead with transparency, listen and learn from you, and foster a culture where your ideas and contributions make an impact. I will model empathy and work to build trust across the organization. I’ll hold myself accountable for delivering on my commitments to you and all of LS&Co.’s stakeholders. Keeping LS&Co.’s values front and center, I will stay true to our commitment to profits through principles. This means, to start, supporting our sustainability efforts; our diversity, equity and inclusion work; and our engagement and advocacy on the social issues that matter most to our employees and communities. These are hallmarks of who we are as a company, and they serve as a source of pride and a compass for us all.
I know there will be some challenges in 2024, but I believe we have the right strategies and leadership in place to reach new levels of growth. I’m excited about what we will achieve, confident in our collective talent and optimistic about our DTC-first future.