When Mickey Drexler speaks, people listen. The man who successfully led the Gap and then turned J. Crew around has picked up a few things since he started his career as a buyer for Bloomie's many years ago.
At this week's WWD CEO Summit, Mr. Drexler told attendees, "Creativity drives growth in any business."
Interestingly, a new study by Futurestep found that only 21 percent of retail companies see creativity as among the most valuable competencies.
Jonathan Brown, EMEA RPO operations director at Futurestep, said in a statement, "The creativity crisis that we are seeing in retail is being heightened by the economic climate. ... The economic situation, however, makes creativity increasingly vital as competition for consumer spend is greater and the expectation of those consumers is higher. Apple is a prime example, reinventing the store in an approach admired by competitors. Retailers that are attracting top creative talent by maintaining a focus on innovation are reaping the benefits by differentiating themselves and creating a competitive advantage, not only in store but across multiple channels including mobile."
So where do retailers find new, creative talent?
Mr. Drexler said he looks in unusual places, and that most people offering resume advice for kids coming out of college should be fired. (Editor's conclusion: Perhaps some of the people at retail companies make talent evaluations on factors that have little to do with success in the real world.)
"Titles don't matter. GPAs don't matter, nor does what school you go to. What matters is hard work, and emotional intelligence. ... I hire a lot of waiters, waitresses. Someone who's successful has a background that's not predictable."
How successful are retailers today at identifying, hiring and developing creative employees?