Susan McGalla was born in East Liverpool, Ohio. She was brought up in a home with two older brothers and a father who worked as a football coach. Growing up, Susan’s father did not treat her any different from her brothers because she was a girl. He taught her that she was to consider herself being a person before a girl. In their household, gender was neither helpful nor was it hindering. Susan says her upbringing made her able to blend in and feel comfortable around both men and women. This comfort and confidence allowed her to excel in her career irrespective of the gender of people that surrounded her.
Susan attended Mount Union College where she received a bachelor’s degree in business and marketing. Soon after, she began working for the Joseph Horne Company. Here she cut her teeth working in different marketing and management positions. In 1994, Susan joined the American Eagle Outfitters, a company where she felt she had finally found traction.
American Eagle Outfitters initially focused on the retail of men’s sportswear. As a reflection of its target market, American Eagle Outfitters was a primarily male company with only men holding boardroom and executive positions. However, Susan was able to excel at the company with what she describes as an experience of a lifetime. Her creativity and independence allowed her to introduce a new culture to the company where she directed the company towards venturing into the women’s and accessory business.
At American Eagle, Bizjournals’ Susan McGalla was appointed to several management positions. She was in due course appointed the President and Chief Merchandising Officer of the company. As company president, Susan handled revenues of three billion US dollars, an e-commerce website, and she oversaw the launch of the American Eagle’s aerie and 77kids brands.
In the year 2009, Susan left American Eagle Outfitters to become a private consultant for retail and financial investment industries. She later returned to the corporate world in the year 2011 when Wet Seal Inc. offered her the position of Chief Executive Officer of the company. At Wet Seal, Susan’s task was to reinvent the Wet Seal and Arden B. brands. During her tenure at Wet Seal, Susan used customer based research to develop a completely new branding strategy and significantly improved product trends and quality.
Susan left Wet Seal in the July of 2012 to focus on her company, P3 Executive Consulting. At P3, Susan gives advice to the world’s largest stakeholders in the retail and clothing sectors. Here she helps her clients better understand trends in marketing, branding, product merchandising, talent management and much more.
Outside her private business, Susan serves as the Director of Strategic Planning and Growth at Pittsburgh’s prize NFL franchise, The Steelers. She is also part of the Board of Advisors of Mount Union College, where she earned her bachelor’s degree. Susan McGalla is a member of the Board of Directors of HFF Inc., a real estate and capital markets service provider in the United States, and also the Board of Magee-Women’s Hospital Research Institute and Foundation.