Sustainable Success: Patagonia CEO on Growing an Iconic Brand Without Compromising Values

March 31, 2016

Rose Marcario at Simmons

Rose Marcario, CEO of Patagonia, inspired the Simmons community with her story of how an encounter on a busy New York street changed everything.

This article first appeared in its entirety in Fall 2015 SOM Management Magazine.

By Chau Chen, Florencia Rodi, Jane Hayward and Lori Howley

This past April, at the invitation of a group of Simmons MBA students, Rose Marcario spoke at the Simmons School of Management about leadership and sustainability in business. As the chief executive officer of one of the world's best-known and admired brands - and as the company's first female CEO - Marcario shares her unique experiences and her perspectives on success and achievement.

She told the story of how one day, some years ago, she was traveling by a limousine to a business meeting in New York City when a homeless man wandered onto the street, delaying her vehicle. Annoyed and impatient at the thought of being late to her meeting, she caught her own expression in the glass of the limousine and was suddenly struck by her lack of compassion in the moment. "What is happening to me?" she questioned. "What is success? Is it chasing money and titles?" she asked herself, "and what is wealth?" This experience she described as "the moment when I woke up." Soon after, she walked away from her job, spent time in India reflecting on her life, and looked deeply at how to align her values with business. She found herself at Patagonia, and began building a socially responsible reputation for the brand. Today, Patagonia's success is paralleled by Marcario's commitment to social responsibility and sustainability. Both are known not only for their business growth and profitability, but also for their vision and commitment to employees, community, and the environment. Her redefined success has established a trend in a new category of sustainable business, and she has set expectations and created opportunity for a new generation of women leaders who bring balance and social focus to business success. 

Read complete article from Fall 2015 Simmons SOM Management Magazine.