Fashion Retailer In Digital Era
An interview excerpt of Pablo Isla Álvarez de Tejera, CEO of the world's largest fashion retailer Inditex which handles the world famous Zara brand among others.
How important is it to be rational over emotional?
"In managing a company, you of course need to be rational," Isla said. "I lead a company with more than 150,000 employees and millions of customers. But I'm gradually learning to be less rational and more emotional. Motivating people and generating a sense of spirit inside a company are essential parts of the CEO's role. We need to appeal to our employees' emotions to help create an environment where they can innovate."
What is Pablo Isla's digital management style?
The single word description employees uses to describe his management style is humble. More than 4000 stores were opened since he took over the company more than a decade ago.
However, he never attends the store opening, as he wants the store to be in the limelight - what is most relevant to the consumer, and not any particular person. He believes it is the result of the work of a team of people and not him alone. He prefers making store visits on a day when he can actually see how it works. He spends much of his time travelling to visit stores, drawing informal conversations and listening to his store staff. He has always been his employees' man. With his informal management style, Isla is quite different from most CEOs who drown all day in one meeting after another and long presentations. Discreet and simple, he "manages by walking around" the headquarters visiting the different departments, informal conversations and informal meetings with his people.
Inditex has a very flat and open structure, doesn't have many formal meetings or a formal management committee. Inditex manages each line of business as if they were a small start up, empowering a lot of people to take decisions. According to him, motivating people and generating a sense of spirit inside a company are the essential parts of the CEO's role. Hierarchy to command and control in the organisation is dissolved into a mixture of management, support and collaboration.