AEO Women’s History Month Spotlight: Kate, Senior Vice President – Inventory Planning and Operations Support

At AEO, we value, support and empower our associates. In March, as we celebrate Women’s History Month, we recognize the incredible contributions of some of our female leaders. Whether they work in our stores, distribution centers or offices, AEO women play a vital role in the success of the company. We are delighted to share the profile of Kate, Senior Vice President – Inventory Planning and Operations Support.

Kate has been a valued member of our AEO community for over 20 years! After graduating from Bucknell University, Kate worked as a buyer for eight years before joining the AEO.

You have been at AEO for much of your career. Tell us about your professional background, what you do in your current role, and how you’ve grown with AEO.

I joined AEO in 2002 as a Women’s Merch Planner for AE Direct and was part of a small team building the business. After 13 years in merchandise planning, I had the opportunity to lead the inventory planning, MOS and central pricing teams. The opportunity was both exciting and a bit scary – I was out of my comfort zone. But taking on a new role challenged me to put myself in a position where I had to rely on my team to educate me so I could gain additional experience.

In 2019, my team joined AEO’s Supply Chain organization, and in 2021, I added Supplier Operations teams to my organization. The addition of these teams continued to challenge me as a leader to expand my knowledge and reach. That’s what I love about working for AEO – even after 20 years, I’m continually learning and being challenged to find ways to impact the business!

What is it like working in supply chain, especially now?

Historically, supply chain has tended to be a very male-dominated field, and I think to a large extent that remains true today. As leaders of the AEO Supply Chain group, I believe that everyone has the opportunity and the obligation to move towards more diversity, in particular by attracting more female talent. However, creating a diverse organization is not just the role of leaders – women need to be curious about the opportunities that exist and be willing to try their luck in a new role. It’s an exciting challenge and a great opportunity to be seen as a company that truly supports and values ​​gender diversity, especially within our supply chain.

Who is the woman who has influenced your life the most – whether personally or professionally?

There are many people in my life who have inspired me! More importantly, my mother taught me to have a voice – to have an opinion and express it; seek the good in people and in situations; be faithful and love fiercely.

How do you see yourself inspiring the next generation of female leaders around the world?

I’m always extremely flattered – and in all honesty a bit surprised – when someone tells me I inspired them. I recognize that as a female leader, my actions, my words and the way I approach situations are important. I try to always be authentic in my actions, treat people the way I want to be treated, take risks, and not be afraid to admit when I’ve made a mistake. We learn by observing others and we learn by making mistakes, but we grow when we can turn those observations and learnings into action.

What accomplishment are you most proud of at AEO?

Over the past 20 years, I’ve been fortunate to have played a role on many teams – from building the business to helping chart the course for an Omni Inventory approach and evolution of inventory planning tools and systems. I am proud of all these accomplishments and many more. But honestly, what I’m most proud of is how my teams have responded to the upheavals of the past two years. Their focus, diligence, hard work and loyalty have allowed us to grow the business, keep our associates safe and achieve amazing results. It’s not so much my accomplishment our achievement, and we should all be proud of it!