Susan McGalla was born in the small town of East Liverpool, Ohio, and there she grew up learning to be a “tough go-getter” from her football coach father. She also learned to keep pace with two older brothers who didn’t “cut her slack” just because she was a girl.
It might have been just the perfect early training ground for a woman who would grow up to become one of the most successful businesswomen and CEOs in America.
After graduating high school, McGall went on to earn a BA degree from Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio. From there she went to work for American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. What she encountered at this established, venerable company was a heavily male-dominated corporate culture where any woman was automatically relegated to second-tier status – even though times were changing and the company was already taking steps to foster more equality.
But McGalla grew up in a male-oriented household and was undaunted – she embraced her duties and worked her way up from purchasing to a series of management positions. She kept climbing the ladder until she achieved the position of president and chief merchandising officer. At American Eagle Outfitters she was responsible for the P&L, generating revenues of $3 billion and ramping up the company’s e-commerce site and sales.
Despite encountering male-dominated business cultures, McGalla describes her approach as nonconfrontational. She said she did not navigate her job “with a chip on her shoulder” or make any grand attempt to “shatter the glass ceiling.”
In 2009, Mcgalla moved on from American Eagle to become a private consultant within the retail and financial investment industries. She landed a place on the board of directors of HFF Inc., one of the largest and most successful commercial real estate capital intermediaries in the country.
McGalla was named CEO of Wet Seal Inc. in 2011 and parted way with the company about a year later to establish her own private consulting firm, P3 Executive Consulting. She also serves as vice president of business strategy and creative development for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL.
Today, McGalla is enthusiastic about being in control of her own destiny, running her own firm and working with many of the top business leaders in the United States. Her expertise is eagerly sought after by a wide cross section of players within the retail and financial industry sectors.