Updated: Sep 17
Great leaders don’t reach the height of success without clear vision, integrity and unstoppable fortitude.
Patagonia is an iconic brand, not just in their signature outdoor apparel, but their unconventional work culture.
They’re one of the world’s best examples of a successful conscious company. With onsite childcare facilities and three day weekends every other week. They also hire activist employees and encourage peaceful environmental protests. If any employee is arrested for peacefully protesting, they will pay for the bail, legal fees and their corresponding time away from work.
Rose Marcario has led Patagonia through their most profitable and expansive era in its history. She joined the company as COO in 2008 and became CEO in 2013. Under her tenure, she’s quadrupled the company’s profits and revenues.
Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, has called her the best leader his company has ever seen.
In this article, we take a look at the reasons behind her success.
“This idea that business can only serve one interest — the shareholder interest — is so wrong-headed. It’s outdated,” - Rose Marcario.
One of the reasons we've chosen Marcario as our first HVO Search leadership case study (we’ll be exploring the successes of current leaders every other week) is her innovative and trailblazing approach to business.
She’s looked at the classic business model and has reimagined it to give it more purpose.
More importantly, she didn’t separate her business beliefs from her self-beliefs, she used her values, ethics and integrity as the driving force behind her leadership strategy.
We spoke to Rose about how she approaches ethics and sustainability in her decision-making and what she considers will shape leadership in the future:
“The ‘classic’ business model does not work in today’s society. The focus must be shifted from profits to people and planet. Leaders should look for ways to synergise their business with their community and environment. We all share a social and sustainable responsibility and every individual has a role in making the world a better place - especially those in leadership positions.”
Rose has pushed the standards leaders should be aiming to achieve. It’s clear that leaders can take care of their employees, customers and the planet as a principal concern without foregoing profits.
In doing so, she’s become not only a powerful leader of today, but will inspire companies and individuals to rethink and adapt their view of success.
Throughout her career, Rose has made her values and mindset clear: she puts people, environment and community before profits.
She also believes in cherishing and developing your individuality. She noted in an interview with Conscious Leader:
“When I was coming up, all I had were male CEOs to gauge what a CEO is. At a certain point, I just had to abandon that idea because I didn’t relate to them at all. What’s most important is developing your own value system, what you believe is right and wrong, your own style.”
And she’s shown that her way of conducting business is just as commercially successful as it is socially and environmentally.
In an interview with Stanford Graduate School of Business, Rose listed her skills as
“making people money, being a really good operator and being a good leader and manager.”
There is no doubt that she is all of the above.
Her actions have had and will have a profound effect on the issues future leaders' prioritise at work.
She’s used her voice and platform for good and her focus has been on progression, change and making the world a better place.
It’s been difficult to write this article without it ringing of adulation. But we couldn’t think of a better leader to kickstart our bi-weekly leadership case studies.
Get in touch if you need help hiring visionary and innovative leaders.