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EXECUTIVE SWEET

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     While Jung was climbing the executive ladder, her mentor was being wooed by the I Magnin chieftains in San Francisco. They offered to make Vass the first female CEO in the department store's history. Vass accepted and then asked Jung to join her.

     Jung moved to San Francisco in 1987 to work under Vass. Since Vass had bullishly backed her at Bloomingdales, Jung thought rejecting the offer would be downright foolish.

     "I think it's critical that you feel you're working for a person who is committed to advancing your career," Jung says. "That's why I've gotten where I am today."

     During a five year stint at I. Magnin, Jung ascended to General Merchandising Manager and then to Senior Vice President. Her management skills also piqued the interest of executives at Neiman Marcus. They wanted a new administrator who could oversee everything from women's clothing to children's accessories.

     Neiman Marcus approached Jung with an offer she couldn't refuse, even though the move would mean leaving Vass. "It was a terrific opportunity," Jung recalls. "It was a larger company and a bigger job."

     She relocated to Dallas in 1991 and became Neiman Marcus' Executive Vice President, and became their voice of fashion.

     The next two years saw Jung market ritzy apparel to the deep-pocketed consumers dwelling in America's highest income bracket. Only three percent of Americans can afford to shop regularly at Neiman Marcus without mortgaging their homes two or three times. And this fact of retail life began to irritate Jung's ambition.

     She was growing bored marketing to the wealthy. The true challenge lay not in convincing the rich to part with generous disposable incomes, but in persuading the masses to shell out hard-earned cash for the products she was pushing.

     Since Jung was stagnating at Neiman Marcus, she left to take on a consulting job at Avon in May 1993. Seven months later, she accepted a full-time position there. "I felt that all the things I wanted for my career were right here at Avon," Jung says.

     Avon's corporate culture also appealed to Jung. Women form one quarter of the company's Board of Directors and nearly half of its senior officers. At Avon, Jung points out, there is no glass ceiling to squelch her advancement. And how companies treat women has always played a major role in her decision making.

     "I'm very selective in the companies I work for," she says. "I started at Bloomingdales because it was committed to developing women. When I went to I Magnin in San Francisco, it was to accompany a female CEO, and because there's a strong Asian population in that city, I never encountered a glass ceiling because of my race."

     Even if companies like Avon didn't exist, Jung insists she still would have pursued a marketing career. It might mean banging her head against a glass ceiling, but Jung found the dynamics of marketing so seductive that any other career would have seemed dull as a long, flat stretch of desert highway.

     "I have a love for this business," she says. "I have an enormous amount of passion for it. Since I'm a mother and a wife, I have to have passion or the frustration would win out. But I love managing people. The product is second to managing the people. And marketing to consumers is so challenging because it is evolving constantly."

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     "I think there is," Jung says, "a big and significant difference between being a leader and being a manager-leaders lead from the heart. You have to be analytical and flexible. Flexibility is one of the key ingredients to being successful. If you feel like it's difficult to change, you will probably have a harder time succeeding."

     While elasticity spawns innovation, creativity and other qualities that generate exciting business, Jung believes routine promotes a successful home life. And like most corporate officers, she has learned to allot portions of the day to her family. Otherwise, she says, she would be swallowed by her career.

     Besides opening the door of her Manhattan townhouse by 7:30 each night, she sets aside blocks of time to spend with her daughter and husband. She also has forfeited pleasures like socializing, reading novels and piano training.

     "The part that loses out at the end of the day is just doing things for myself," she says. "Sometimes when I go on a business trip, it's those five hours on the plane or that night in the hotel room which are the only moments when I have time for myself. Only then can I read magazines or a novel."

     Since Jung and her husband Michael Gould, chairman of Bloomingdales since 1991, are both high-powered corporate players, they are required to attend a slew of evening functions like fund raisers, community awards banquets and martini-drenched networking events. These ravage their spare time even further.

     "We try to balance it, but some things get sacrificed," Jung laments. "For example, I can only have dinner with my girlfriends once a month instead of once a week."

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An avon earring. Jung's world-class sensibility will help Avon grow a business that now gets three-quarters of its revenues from overseas.


“I think it's critical that you feel you're working for a person who is committed to advancing your career.”




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