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Lisa Benson, Vice President of IMG Models, has always known she’s wanted to pursue a career in the fashion industry, and you could say that Saks Fifth Avenue was the jumping off point for her professional journey. “I didn’t know what specific roles were available to me, so I decided to look into jobs and internships that would help me learn more. I called the number on the back of the Saks Fifth Avenue catalogue, in hopes that I could connect with someone about their internship program, and after numerous calls, I eventually got someone on the phone and faxed my résumé for consideration.” Soon after, she was offered a Saks buying/managerial internship, one that helped her gain invaluable experience at the time.
After college, Lisa’s father’s good friend, Arnold Palmer (co-founder of IMG, alongside Mark McCormack) put her in touch with someone at IMG in the newly formed models division. This was where she became familiar with the Talent Manager role.
“I was lucky enough to secure an informational interview. It was during that interview with Ivan Bart, President of IMG Models and IMG Fashion Properties, that I became aware of my dream job.”
Lisa started at IMG Models as the receptionist, eager to work with talent right away but aware of how centering her attention on the role at hand would be more powerful in the end. “I knew that the only way I would get there was to focus on becoming the best receptionist first, to prove to those around me I was committed and capable of the next step.” After that, came the position as Ivan’s assistant, then as Junior Manager, and finally Senior Manager. Lisa’s goals amplified as she worked up the ladder. From landing clients the cover of Vogue and British Vogue, to attending Cannes Film Festival and the Vanity Fair Oscar Party–she’s basically conquered it all in the industry. “I was able to accomplish all of them by studying how others were able to succeed at goals similar to mine - asking a lot of questions, seeking advice from those who I knew I could learn from and networking like crazy with those who could help me. Now as Vice President, my goal is to mentor the next generation of leaders in our industry to do the same.”
Lisa completely believes that failing is a part of the entire process, and that it’s something we all have to go through in order to grow. “Everyone is going to mess up at times, but you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it. If you make a mistake, just take a step back and look at what you could have done differently to change the outcome, that way you learn how to avoid that mistake in the future.” She’s approached her setbacks with positive reinforcement, learning from what she’d done wrong. In the end, that’s what makes you stronger as an individual and professional. Plus, she’s all about the importance of work/life balance.
Everyone’s path is different, and Lisa’s career experience is proof of staying power and working with passion. Take a look at her résumé below and take note of her advice to all of us (seriously, stick these tips in your back pocket!).