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Q&A with Hannah LeClair, Global Director, Innovation Strategy & Operations, Performance Apparel and Footwear Global Innovation Centers

Tags: Corporate News Strategy & Innovation Life at VF

Q&A with Hannah LeClair, Global Director, Innovation Strategy & Operations, Performance Apparel and Footwear Global Innovation Centers

September 12, 2016

For nearly two years, Hannah LeClair has been deeply involved in the strategic planning and operational development of the Performance Apparel and Footwear Global Innovation Centers (GIC), in an effort to drive new products that will change the game in apparel and footwear.

LeClair, Global Director of Innovation Strategy & Operations and based in Dover, New Hampshire, started at VF Corporation in November 2014, bringing more than a dozen years of apparel and footwear industry experience. Innovation for some of the world’s most iconic footwear brands, including Timberland and Vans, is happening in Dover, as strategists, scientists and materials experts work with new materials and technologies to develop breakthrough products.


Location: Dover, NH

Fun Fact: Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my husband, Joe,
and two daughters, Sienna (8) and Layla (5).

Favorite VF brand product: I need to get my hands on some lucy indiGO! 
The product is amazing.

One word to describe herself: Passionate

Throughout her career, LeClair has learned the importance of collaboration and networking to deliver results and make an impact. That insight has positioned her well for her current role at VF.

What does it mean to be a Global Director of Innovation Strategy & Operations?

What I love about this generalist role is that I have the opportunity to work on many different types of projects - which means I am fortunate to engage with a myriad of VF team members.  Because of that, no day is ever the same.  On one day I am focused on portfolio analysis, budgets, or shaping new processes, and on the next I am planning for one of our quarterly team workshops or team building activities.  I am passionate about the work and about moving our innovation vision and mission forward.

What makes VF a unique company?

The focus around OneVF is really inspiring - within our portfolio we have innovation projects specific to each brand, but we are also working on cross-brand opportunities that will fuel growth across the portfolio.  As a team we are excited about the potential to launch innovations that serve multiple brands and drive market leadership and differentiation.

What have been some of your favorite projects to date?

I enjoy the challenge of bringing the right amount of process and structure to a creative and imaginative team, but the area I am most passionate about is team building.  The Strategy & Operations team encourages the GIC to celebrate and inspire each other. We often participate in activities such as building structures or items with different and creative materials to solving challenges using Legos - all of which continue to make our team stronger.

What is something unique about the Innovation Center that people may not know?

The Innovation Centers’ focus and efforts are rooted within our brands’ strategies. Everything we do aligns with their strategic objectives. We have dedicated innovation brand managers who sit with the brand teams at their headquarters, allowing for regular communication and transparency.  The GIC teams are dedicated to fueling the brand’s product strategies forward with multi-year innovation platforms.

What advice would you give to others looking to follow in your footsteps?

Network.  Today it’s all about networking and getting to know people. Every time I go to a conference or another VF location, I try to meet with someone in person that I’ve communicated with over email — even if it’s just a hello over coffee. That partnership building and interaction continues to be critical for driving results in my current role, and I believe it will continue to be helpful as I look toward the future.