How do you go from investment banking to fashion business powerhouse? “Embrace the change and go for it,” says Shira Suveyke. As chief merchant of THE OUTNET, she heads a team in New York while overseeing the entire business – and its dealings with 350-plus luxury designer brands – from Milan, Paris and London. “Work is such a huge part of life, so it’s important to do something you feel passionate about.”
But you might, like Shira, take a detour or two on the way there.
A born numbers whiz, the economics and business management grad began her career at a bank. “Math was always my strongest subject, so while I wasn’t quite sure where I was going to apply this, I knew it would be an instrumental part of any job I took. Initially, it pushed me towards investment banking, and then into fashion buying” – for the likes of Ralph Lauren, J.Crew and Macy’s.
Looking back on her journey to her current role at the very top of the e-tail space, Shira credits the shift from finance to fashion as her most meaningful (and daring) career move. “My first role was in an analyst training program at Deutsche Bank, however it quickly became obvious to me that I could apply myself creatively as well as analytically with my skillset,” she says.
In redirecting her attention, Shira turned to a life-long love. “I was always drawn to fashion from a young age and was heavily influenced by my grandmother while I was growing up. Fashion is such an outward expression of yourself, and clothes give us a certain confidence which can be incredibly transformative. This has always been something that inspires and excites me and gets me up in the morning.”
The Big Apple also played its part in leading her astray. “Being in New York, you can’t help but be exposed to the fashion industry – it really ignited my passion and I made the decision to change my career path,” says Shira, who joined THE OUTNET, sister website to Net-a-Porter, in 2011 – two years after its launch. “I found the transition to be a really positive one – it definitely allowed me to come into my own as I was exposed to so many different areas within the creative industry.”
Fashion, Shira points out, is also a numbers game. “While it is important to have a sense of style in my role, there is also an element of study to it,” Shira explains. “While I might have a gut feeling, I always back this up with data as ultimately that is my job and that’s what is going to drive the business forwards.”
Her advice to fresh fashion hopefuls is to “make yourself invaluable to the team and the position in hand. Say yes, be curious and go above and beyond your role. If you support your manager and the company, it will inevitably lead to personal success early in your career.”