Leslie Cohen, SVP of What's Next

Leslie Cohen is a self-proclaimed 'business generalist' who has taken deep-dives into music, entertainment, e-commerce and retail along with fashion-tech. Her resume includes SVP at Sony Music, CDO for IMG Artists, Principal Consultant at her namesake corporation, and ED of the XRC Fashion-Tech Accelerator at Parsons School of Design, alongside numerous prestigious board memberships. She had three boys in three years and prides herself on never skipping a beat at work. In true FemmBoss fashion, Leslie is equally as insightful and as approachable as they come. It came as no surprise that she has been dubbed "The SVP of What’s Next” by peers and colleagues, as Leslie gravitates toward things that other people shy away from.  We sat down with this FemmBoss to get her perspective on paving the path of your dreams, a strong mentor relationship and what FemmBoss means to her.  

Your career has spanned media to fashion to tech and now branding. Can you tell us how you got on this path and some tidbits of what you've learned along the way? I was never a true music person when I was at Sony Music as I had come from the movie side of the business. That meant I was open to opportunities that had less conventional paths – DVD, Blu-ray, digital video, etc. So while many people were digging their heels in deeper during the digital disruption of music, I was already riding a wave on innovation. So while I would not describe myself as a bold risk-taker, I do like to take a path less traveled.

Where do you get your motivation? I like to change things and motivate people. Ideally, if I can tap into an innovative movement, then I will bring people along with me. I am also motivated to achieve professionally for my children. With three boys, I think it is essential that they view women as high achievers, capable of every success they see men achieving. My goal is to have them grow up recognizing women as leaders, partners and equals, professionally and personally.

Our founder views you as a mentor. Someone who has always been a guiding light offering not only encouragement, honesty, and words of wisdom, but often most importantly, time. What do you think makes a good mentor/mentee relationship? Any personal experiences to pull from? I am gratified by helping others – whether through a business introduction, serving as a sounding board or strategizing ways over a hurdle. I had very few mentors along the way, but the few I had were extraordinarily generous with their time and advice. By following their models and supporting people over career (and personal) obstacles, I am continuing the good work they started.

What does FemmBoss mean to you? The tide may finally be changing for women in business. A FemmBoss does not shy away from adversity or cave to pressure. A FemmBoss sets an example of strong leadership and commitment to women and men. It’s as important for women to have strong female role models as it is for men to see strong successful women in leadership positions. And it is important for women to resist falling into the trap of a narrow definition of the type of boss that people expect a female boss to be.

Thanks to Leslie for sharing her story and her powerful words. For follow up questions, comment below or visit our Instagram to comment on Leslie's post and get feedback from her directly.

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