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Five tips for women navigating their careers


Alison Loehnis of NET-A-PORTER, MR PORTER and THE OUTNET, part of YOOX NET-A-PORTER Group, in Conversation with Ruth Kennedy: 2021 Wo+Men’s Leadership Conference keynote at Cambridge Judge Business School.

A female hiker in a bright yellow waterproof jacket stands in a rapeseed field and looks at the thunderstorm approaching.

Alison Loehnis, President, Luxury and Fashion – NET-A-PORTER, MR PORTER and THE OUTNET was In Conversation with Ruth Kennedy of the 2021 Wo+Men’s Leadership Conference at Cambridge Judge Business School.

Alison spoke on 8 June via video webinar in conversation with Ruth Kennedy, Managing Director of Kennedy Dundas.

A native of New York, Alison’s diverse career spans roles on both sides of the Atlantic including with advertising firm Saatchi & Saatchi, entertainment company Disney and luxury-goods group LVMH. Alison joined NET-A-PORTER in 2007.

In her keynote In Conversation, Alison outlined the philosophy that has helped her navigate her multifaceted career. Here are some edited excerpts of five tips she offers:

1. Follow your gut

Don’t worry about the narrative of your CV, follow your gut. I may be too led by this, but your gut usually doesn’t lie. Give things a chance, and don’t waste your energy second-guessing yourself.

2. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes

You may not get it right the first time but the learning along the way is absolutely priceless.

The pandemic has taught me that showing vulnerability is really important and also something  that is quite natural; also look up: there’s a beautiful book called The Overstory by Richard Powers that I recommend.

3. Try not to be so hard on yourself

You’re not going to know everything on day one and you’re not always going to make the best decisions, but even the wrong ones will take you somewhere.

4. Always be curious and ask questions

One thing we learned during the pandemic was that we can become creative in all kinds of different ways. It’s important to be open and curious to possibilities.

5. Be open to trying new things and meeting new people

The toughest part of my career was figuring out what I wanted to do: What’s next? Am I going to find ‘my thing’, because I know that I have a thing and I just don’t know what it is yet. I’ve had the most non-linear career, and I embraced it and I wouldn’t change a thing.