Diane Ellis on Women “Go-Getters”

Aug 10, 2016 | Uncategorized

Diane EllisDiane Ellis joined The Limited, LLC, headquartered in New Albany, Ohio, as Chief Executive Officer in August 2013, responsible for all company revenue and operations, strategic planning, brand positioning and marketing. Prior to taking this position, she was President and Chief Operating Officer of Brooks Brothers Group, Inc., and the Founding Partner of Lighthouse Retail Group.

We recently spoke with Diane about The Limited’s business, how she sees women leading the way and what she hopes you will take away from panel participation at this year’s National Women’s Business Conference.


Q: Tell us a little bit about you.

The Limited is an iconic brand and omni-channel retailer focused on the lifestyle needs of sophisticated professional women. We operate 250 stores across the U.S. along with a very strong e-commerce business. I joined The Limited team three years ago as CEO. I grew up in the retail industry, first as a merchant in department stores, then moved to the off-price sector and then transitioned into a consulting career helping retailers globally with driving strategies for growth. From there, I took on the role as President and COO of Brooks Brothers for seven years prior to joining The Limited team.

Q: What’s next for you and your organization, and how will you get there? 

We are focused on shifting the mix of our channels of distribution and real estate portfolio to better align with the anticipated changes in consumer behaviors and shopping preferences. Staying in sync with the dynamic shifts in our client’s lifestyle and shopping behaviors will be key to driving growth and optimizing profitability of The Limited brand. We are working to get there by changing our internal processes and systems, remixing our real estate portfolio and most importantly, resetting our own attitudes and behaviors to function as a true Omni-channel/client-led lifestyle brand.  

Q: What are some areas today where you see women entrepreneurs leading the way?

It would be hard for me to narrow it to just 1-2 areas. I see women entrepreneurs taking a lead in many arenas. In our recent brand campaign “Leading Looks Like” we had the opportunity to recognize and celebrate many women who are fabulous role models for female leadership across a wide and diverse array of business fields, experience sets and backgrounds. The common trait amongst all of these women that we love is that they are real “go-getters.” These women have not let obstacles, circumstances or lack of experiences prevent them from going out and making things happen for themselves, their families and their communities.  

Q: How have you led the way in your business and community in the past year?

Our team has led the way in the retail sector by driving change and innovation in an environment that is facing significant challenges and headwinds given the accelerating changes in how the consumer shops and spends. In addition to leading our competition to embrace delivery of an Omni-channel experience for our clients, we have also recently launched two new, highly innovative retail store concepts designed to respond to the changes in consumer demand. Our “Backroom at the Limited” store concept was launched in response to the move in consumer preference toward value. We also recently launched a new full-price store concept in Tyson’s Corner in McClean, Virginia, that brings the shopping experience to life in a high-touch, elevated, digitally enabled store.

We have led in our community through The Limited’s long-standing commitment and passion for philanthropy. One aspect of this commitment that I am most proud of is our work in support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Since we began our partnership with St. Jude two years ago, our teams across the country have raised close to $1.5 million for the children of St. Jude and were recognized as St. Jude’s New Corporate Partner of the Year for 2014.


Q: In what areas do you hope to see women leading the way next?

I hope to continue to see women lead the way in all areas, particularly in forming stronger women-led “support” networks in the business community to provide mentorship and access to growth opportunities. We need to take personal ownership of helping to encourage and “lift up” other women whenever we can.


Q: Why is a conference like this one for women entrepreneurs critical?

I think the relationships and opportunities for mentorship and support that are fostered through conferences like this one are crucial in creating the networks that women entrepreneurs need to be successful.

Q: If women walk away from your presentation with one thing, what do you want it to be? 

That you can “lead from any seat” (as we like to say at The Limited), regardless of background, education, circumstance, position, title, you name it. Leadership is a choice…make it. Leading looks like each and every one of us…leading looks like you!


Q: How will you lead the way this year for your business and all women entrepreneurs? 

We will continue to use our brand platform to advance the conversation on women’s leadership and what “Leading Looks Like” for women in today’s workplace. We are also committed to promoting events, helping create communities and networks that encourage and enable women entrepreneurs to engage and support each other in the markets we serve. One of our strategic initiatives this year is to partner with women-led business. To date, we have partnered with NAWBO (locally and nationally), The BOSS Network, Joyus, LEVO, Empowered by You and A Safe Haven. In addition, we have partnered with Eva Longoria who designed a collection of clothing to take a woman from “work to wine.”


Q: Who is one woman from the past or present who inspires you when you think about leading the way, and why?

I would have to say my mother, who was the quintessential example of a true “go-getter.” With no college education and coming from very modest roots, she never let any of that stand in her way of making things happen for herself, her family and others around her. Through her example and encouragement, she instilled in me the belief that you can accomplish anything in life that you put your whole heart and mind to. That belief has served as the foundation for my leadership journey and it has become a key part of our leadership philosophy at The Limited as well.

You won’t want to miss Diane and all the other amazing speakers who will be at the National Women’s Business Conference, September 18-20 (Annual Membership Meeting on the 18th and the Conference on the 19th-20th), in Columbus, Ohio.


View complete conference agenda here.


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