Each year, the Lundquist College’s Women in Business (WIB) club invites an accomplished female professional to deliver the keynote address at its annual February gala. This year’s event—the club's tenth—will take place on February 25 and the keynote speaker will be Molly Malone '79, who brings firsthand experience of what it's like to work up the ranks to senior executive management in the world of retail merchandising.
Currently vice president of general merchandise at the Kroger Company, parent company of the Fred Meyer Company, Malone began her career at Portland-based department store Meier & Frank, where she spent 14 years. She then spent a decade at Troutman’s Emporium. In the early 2000s, Malone started at Fred Meyer as vice president for housewares, toys, and seasonal goods and was later promoted to general merchandise manager of the company’s apparel division. In 2006, Malone was promoted to senior vice president at Fred Meyer and was responsible for all divisions of the company’s stores, excluding food, health and beauty, and pharmacy. Malone began her current position with Kroger in March 2014.
For WIB president Ana Pena, Malone is an inspiring choice to deliver the gala's keynote.
“Molly began her career with drive and passion, and—fast-forward to the present—it has gotten her exactly where she envisioned herself being. Molly is a role model for young women to work hard and persevere through adversity to reach goals and make dreams a reality,” said Pena, who is also a student in the college's Business Honors program.
An annual WIB event since 2005, the gala pairs female undergraduates with professional women for an evening of networking and connection. For students, it’s a chance to learn and practice business etiquette while meeting women who have achieved professional success in their chosen fields. For participating professionals, it’s an occasion to serve as role models and also, potentially, connect with new talent.
Over the years, the event has become an eagerly anticipated tradition for students and participating professionals alike. Last year’s gala had 161 attendees and was the largest in the club’s history. This year, organizers have set an ambitious goal of 200 participants and have moved the event from the Lillis Complex’s Jubitz Atrium to more spacious quarters in the University of Oregon’s Ford Alumni Center.
Malone’s February visit is just the latest example of the burgeoning relationship between the Lundquist College and the nation’s retail giants. In the case of Fred Meyer, many Lundquist College students have participated in the company’s internship program since it began more than a decade ago. Last year, six of the seven University of Oregon students interning at Fred Meyer came from the Lundquist College. The rapidly expanding company expects to hire between 24 and 48 assistant buyers in the upcoming year and hopes to find many of these among the college’s graduates.
To create a pipeline of talent for major retailers and to help students jumpstart retail management careers, the college has begun exploring the creation of an academic concentration in merchandising management.
Interested in attending the gala? Email Pena at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than January 30, 2015.