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7 Questions with Michelle Charpentier
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7 Questions with Michelle Charpentier
Name: Michelle Charpentier
Current title: Founder, CEO
Current organisation: Charp Consulting
With 15 years of experience working with companies ranging from startups to internationally recognized brands, Michelle Charpentier founded Charp Consulting with a mission to help all brands achieve their full potential.
Originally a native of upstate New York, Michelle is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago with a B.A. in Arts, Entertainment and Media Management.
During her time in Chicago, she worked with numerous companies such as Ford Modeling Agency, The Chicago Incubator, The Merchandise Mart, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Ave. Michelle also helped produce events in the Chicago area with Gen Art, Akira, Chicago Fashion Focus, Bravo TV Network, and America's Beauty Show featuring famed celebrity stylists Paul Mitchell and Nick Arrojo.
After living in Chicago for a few years, she moved back to New York where she continued to work in fashion with brands such as Zac Posen, New York Fashion Week, and People's Revolution. She has also held numerous leadership positions with luxury brands including David Yurman and John Hardy.
During her time at David Yurman, she developed their in-house customer experience/eCommerce team which allowed for significant growth. She led the customer experience team to receive the Stella Elite Award for providing best-in-class service for two consecutive years, all while doubling revenue - her proudest professional achievement to date!
At John Hardy, she opened up two beautiful retail boutiques and enhanced the Direct-to-Consumer shopping experience for in-store and online shoppers. Among many other achievements, she also implemented BOSS (Buy Online, Ship from Store) for both companies.
Although she loves working with large corporations, she really enjoys helping young artists and entrepreneurs establish themselves. She has helped numerous small businesses launch their careers by organizing events such as fashion shows, CD release parties and photoshoots, as well as creating websites and seeking out the right production vendors. She has also worked on fundraising events for non-profit organizations such as The Epilepsy Foundation and Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation.
Michelle is experienced in strategy, process improvement, training, events, sales, customer experience and operations. She thrives on bringing an idea to life and always looks forward to an opportunity to collaborate with someone new!
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
I like to be involved in every aspect of my business, so sometimes the biggest challenge for me is letting go a little and delegating more. I recognize that I can't always be everywhere at once or do everything... even though I would like to! However, surrounding myself with a great team of individuals that I trust makes life easier.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I became a CEO by launching my own business! However, it is not something that just happens over night. After years of collaborating with others and holding numerous leadership positions, I was really able to expand my skill set and perfect my craft to a point where I felt confident in my experience to build something of my own!
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I structure my days around my goals for the week and how I know I work best. Some weeks I might spend more time creatively, like writing and content creation, while other weeks I might focus more on new client acquisition, networking, and checking up on clients. I tend to feel more creative later in the day, so I'll work on more creative tasks in the afternoon or evenings. I am a huge advocate for daily/weekly/monthly to-do lists - this also helps me create a healthy work/life balance.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
As much as you plan, things may not always go according to plan. It is important to be able to adapt and think creatively when solving problems.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
I have read Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson numerous times with different teams. The book tells the story of change and demonstrates four typical reactions to those changes though the book's four characters. This book first came to mind as it has been a helpful tool when guiding a team during times of change - be it changes in management to changes due to global pandemic. I like to use this book as it can be applicable at any time when life presents change (both personally and professionally) and it is a quick and easy read!
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
I love to learn and I love to share my knowledge with others. I feel that if you want to build an organization that develops leaders, you need to be a good teacher and mentor. If your team has the tools they need to succeed and they feel empowered - amazing things happen! The other key is creating opportunities for solid cross-functional communication and team building!
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
I find great value in taking the time to have individual one-on-one sessions with my team members. Regardless of how busy things get, it is so important to give them that face time. The meetings don't need to be structured with an agenda - in fact, you don't even need to talk about business at all if that feels appropriate... some of the best conversations can start by realizing you both have the same Starbucks order, after all! Giving my team this time not only makes them feel appreciated, but would give us the opportunity to learn so much about each other professionally AND personally. I would also get to really understand what motivates them and their interests. I have been able to promote people that I never would have known had an interest in a leadership role if I didn't have these sessions. I find it incredibly rewarding to see an employee flourish and grow!