Women in Power: Foot Locker’s Samantha Lomow on Leading With a ‘Spirit of Play” and Her Advice for Female Leaders

As part of FN’s annual Women in Power issue, we asked 15 footwear execs who have stepped into prominent new roles this year to talk about overcoming obstacles and their advice for the next generation.

When Samantha Lomow joined Foot Locker as the company’s first-ever president of global brands in March, she had a clear leadership mantra in mind: lead with a spirit of play.

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This guiding principle was partly influenced by the executive’s long-standing history in the realm of fun and games — literally. Before joining Foot Locker, Lomow had most recently served as the president of branded entertainment at Hasbro, a leading toy and game company that she had been at for over 20 years. Prior to Hasbro, Lomow served as a marketing director at Spin Master, another children’s toy company.

“My experience has given me unique insights into leading and collaborating in highly creative business environments,” Lomow told FN in a written interview. “Play opens minds and provides a supportive space for taking risks and exploring together while having fun.”

Here, Lomow discusses the how she applies her experience in the toy industry to footwear and her advice for women starting out on their career journeys.

My biggest opportunity and biggest challenge:

“I have to efficiently learn the ins and outs of an entirely new industry while not forgetting about what made me successful at Hasbro. At the same time, I have an opportunity to bring a fresh perspective to Foot Locker, Inc. Toys and sneakers both have broad appeal to kids and kids at heart — both industries have fervent collectors that continually pursue the hottest trends, and both have seen their consumer continue to broaden across age and gender. At Foot Locker, I am excited to broaden our assortment across brands and categories by deepening our existing brand relationships with new partnerships.”

The most significant barrier in my career and how I overcame it:

“When you achieve a leadership position you have to make decisions that balance the needs of the company and its stakeholders while not neglecting your personal development. You have to do this while testing your own boundaries. At times I had to put myself well outside of my comfort zone. I lost a lot of sleep before realizing that to succeed sometimes means being rather uncomfortable. Be prepared to challenge consensus when you aren’t feeling aligned. You don’t always have to be right. Recognizing this has helped me find a new level of confidence.”

My advice for women just starting out in their careers:

“Understand the roadmap of the journey your company is on. Then insert yourself into the bigger picture to recognize the role you can play and the impact you can make. You are integral to your company’s story. Bring that story to life in your own way.”

The leader who has had the most impact on me and why:

“My first boss was an incredible mentor and role model. She taught me how to think about the business and how tackle key projects. She made time to check in regularly and took an interest in me professionally and personally. I am so grateful to her for shaping my story early on. I have tried to model myself after her ever since.”

What I am most excited for in my new role:

“I’m excited to start learning from our teams. It has been a pleasure meeting our team members that serve our customers every day and hearing their thoughtful insights on the business. Their energy and passion is extraordinary. I have seen firsthand how warmly our team members connect with our customers and integrate within local communities. Foot Locker, Inc. is approaching its 50th anniversary — that’s 50 years of inspiration! We’re re-inventing our story for our next 50 and I’m thrilled to play a part in this next chapter!”

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