Debra Galle wins 2023 ARA Women Leaders in Retail CEW Scholarship 2023

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) and Chief Executive Women (CEW) have announced Debra Galle (General Manager, Non-Food Business Unit at Coles Supermarkets) as the winner of the ARA CEW scholarship to study at Harvard Business School.

The ARA Women Leaders in Retail CEW Scholarship is in its second year and is open to aspiring female leaders in retail to accelerate their professional development.

Selected from a competitive field of strong applicants, Ms Galle has held leadership positions at Coles for the past four years. With deep FMCG industry experience across both manufacturing and retail, Ms Galle has led highly impactful change for Coles.

Recent highlights include the development and execution of Coles’ ‘Health in Every Aisle’ strategy within grocery, leading the launch of the ‘Dropped and Locked’ price investment program to reduce prices for consumers on essential grocery basket items and the work to remove plastic bags from both Coles supermarkets and online.

Ms Galle’s leadership style prioritises values and behaviours to build a supportive, transparent, and team-based culture. Passionate about FMCG retail, Ms Galle aspires to pursue an executive career in the Retail Industry, driving innovation and transformative change. Previously, she served in senior roles at Coca-Cola, SPC and Mars Inc.

Ms Galle said it feels incredible to get such tangible support from the Australian Retailers Association and Chief Executive Women.

“I am deeply grateful for their belief in my potential as a leader. The ARA Women Leaders in Retail Scholarship unlocks the opportunity to attend the Women’s Leadership Forum at The Harvard Business School in Boston, which is focussed on enhancing leadership skills to succeed at the executive level of business. I think the program’s emphasis on adapting to current market conditions and building strategic advantage can help me to navigate the rapidly changing retail landscape, while growing the ability to innovate and capture new opportunities at the organisational level,” Ms Galle said.

“My hope is that attending the Women’s Leadership Forum will provide me with valuable insights and new tools to succeed in an exciting and challenging leadership position. I hope to be able to share some of what I learn with those around me at Coles and inspire and empower other women to pursue leadership roles in retail.”

CEO Paul Zahra said the ARA is passionately committed to advancing the careers of women.

“Our members are strongly focused on improving support for women within our industry and fostering women’s career progression is a central part of the ARA’s focus on diversity, equality, and inclusion,” Mr Zahra said. “Women are fundamental to the success of Australian retail, making up more than 57 per cent of its workforce however, only 17% of the CEO population. With around 75% of discretionary spend made by women, this makes a powerful segment of our customer base also.

“We are delighted to again partner with CEW to offer this scholarship and thrilled to have such an inspiring leader take out this year’s prize. I’m confident Debra will take full advantage of the opportunity to study at Harvard Business School and propel her leadership skills to new heights.”



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