Jim Gundell

By Samantha Schiano

You may think by the title this is an acclamation of this year’s 2016 Design & Merchandising Distinguished Speaker, Co-Chief Operating Officer and Facilitating leader for Eileen Fisher, Jim Gundell. I want to write about the experience and authenticity of being in his presence and listening to him talk about his life, his success, his struggles, what he has learned from his mistakes, and to hear his story, his voice on his choices and beliefs.

Only those who were at the URBN Annex on April 14 experienced such authenticity. There is a reason our professors strongly encourage us to go to these events. It’s not because they have to or should. But, because it is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. How many schools are able to have such distinguished speakers like Jim Gundell come talk to their students; to encourage them, give them advice and potentially even hire them. These are real opportunities to build connections and make your name known; opportunities to get answers to your burning questions from those deep in the industry; to hear and learn from those head deep in the industry that you are slowly dipping your toes into.

I was encouraged as a freshman by an upperclassman to go to every and any event held, and now as an upperclassman and peer, I am encouraging you. I am a huge believer in fate. I also have a bad case of ‘FOMO’. You never know what could or will happen at these events. You may be inspired, dreams and goals may be created, or better yet you could be given a coop opportunity or a job. You will never know unless you go. Ken Downing, Neiman Marcus’ Senior Vice President and Fashion Director, is coming to Drexel University this Thursday, April 21 for his annual visit. GO. I, for one, have never been more inspired and re-encouraged of my dreams than when I went last year to hear Ken Downing speak. He is a visionary. His vision is inspiring and powerful. So put your phone away and go. Listen to this witty man teach you about his overview of this year’s fashion shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris. You will learn and be inspired, trust me.

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Article blurb on Mr. Downing and his highly-anticipated upcoming visit from the latest Westphal newsletter.




  1. Great post, Alexa. I completely agree. It was so interesting to hear him talk about all that he has accomplished in his life, and in actuality, quite inspiring. We are so lucky to have the opportunity to have such incredible people and distinguished speakers come speak to us on our very own campus!

  2. I also try to go to every speaker’s event! I completely agree that the authenticity of the speakers and their message is always inspiring. Having gone to both events you mentioned, I can definitely say I left each with something to think about. It’s never a disappointment coming out to one of the events!

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