David Yurman is investing in its corporate culture with the creation of a new C-suite role it’s calling Chief of People and Strategy.
And the company’s engaged a proven change-maker from the business world to fill the new position. Emily Yueh, a former partner at McKinsey & Company who lead the development of high-performing human resource functions for global companies across industries and sectors, has been tapped for the role.
In her new role, Yueh will oversee all human resources and corporate strategy priorities worldwide for the jewelry company. She’s the first hire under Evan Yurman, son of company founders David and Sybil Yurman, since he took over as company president in November 2021.
During her 15 years at McKinsey & Company, Yueh was a co-founder and COO of McKinsey Academy, where she helped successfully scale the business. She also served as a key sponsor of Lean-In at McKinsey, an initiative focused on elevating the role of women and diversity in business.
We caught up with Yueh over email about her new position and future plans at David Yurman:
The Zing Report: Hi, Emily! Congrats on the new role. What will be your chief responsibilities at David Yurman?
Emily Yueh: I will be overseeing human resources and corporate strategies worldwide and working alongside Evan Yurman to lead the company to become a destination employer within the next couple of years, to become a company that attracts the best of talent across the industry.
Why was this role created at David Yurman? What need does it meet for the company?
Linking our talent strategy to what drives our business value is at the heart of why this role was crafted. In other words, the strategy behind how you plan to grow your business directly impacts the type of talent and organization you shape. Surprisingly, this critical link is often missing in many businesses. Our strong progression, even [during] COVID-19, and Evan’s ascension to [the role of] president provided a unique opportunity for us to refine and accelerate our growth strategy. With the creation of my role, we are unlocking the full potential of our business and one of our most valuable assets—our people.
What are your big KPIs with this role?
My KPIs are simple: 1. Do we at David Yurman have a clear and achievable strategy to sustained growth? And 2. Do we have the organizational health via our people and culture to achieve it?
Embedded within the second objective is my aspiration to evolve David Yurman to be a top-three destination employer for exceptional talent in luxury. There are many KPIs that I’m keeping a close eye on but two that I’m particularly passionate about are DE&I and career growth. My personal history as a first-generation immigrant, who is Asian-American and a woman, has deeply shaped my belief system in the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as the gift of opportunity.
My aspiration is for us to be 50% diverse by 2027. In some categories, such as gender, we’re already [past that goal]. But in others, such as racial diversity, we still have work to do. I also aspire for us to graduate 80% of our people through a formal DY leadership development program in service to their career development in the next five years.
While it is not uncommon for companies to talk about these aspirations, what I think is unique about David Yurman is that we’re putting our money where our mouth is. In 2023 alone, we’re earmarked to invest over 10% of revenue to accelerate our strategic clarity, people development and diversity efforts. We’ll measure our progress by regularly surveying employee satisfaction, examining how long employees are staying with the company, the number of gender and ethnically diverse employees across our departments and executive team, and the quality of our recruitment processes.
Can you explain what “implementing a standard of support and care for its employees” will look like at David Yurman?
Our goal at David Yurman is to have an employee experience that mirrors end-to-end our world-class customer experience. That’s precisely why we think about it as not just setting “a standard,” but as setting the gold standard for how we create an ecosystem to support and care for our employees. Specifically, we are improving our Employee Value Proposition by focusing on personal and professional purpose, leadership development (including internal and external training programs), and exceptional benefits (including the unexpected like Spotify accounts, gym memberships, and fertility support). All of this is possible because we committed to reinvesting 10% of our profits back into our employees as part of their professional development and support.
There’s clearly been a call for more transparency in how companies treat their employees globally from consumers—what would you like consumers and the industry to know about how David Yurman is advancing in this area?
To me, nothing is more powerful than the truth and shining a light on that truth provides the foundation for everyone to deepen understanding, building alignment and most importantly move forward against a shared vision. That is precisely why as one of my first acts as Chief People and Strategy Officer, I launched the Organizational Health Index (OHI) to provide a transparent baseline for how “healthy” our employees and culture really was.
The findings were enlightening – both Evan and I were struck by the pride and ownership every one of our employees felt in being part of David Yurman. We also noted the importance of quickly addressing some of the processes and ways of doing things that could be improved. However, what was even more important to us than understanding the findings, was sharing them across the organization and collaborating with our people to find solutions.
Transparency is not just about one way communication – it’s about building something for our people by our people. It was critical to us to signal very publicly that we were both equally committed to continuing build on our strengths, but also improve on our opportunities. It is this commitment and follow-through that we are excited to be advancing for our people
We’ve already begun taking steps to strengthen David Yurman’s company culture by surveying employees to better understand what is and is not working. We’re also in the process of revamping company functions to open the lines of communication between the executive team and the employees and provide more transparency within departments. We plan to implement company-wide surveys on a more regular basis to ensure we’re keeping abreast of employee concerns and satisfaction.
What are you looking forward to the most in this new position?
There are many things I’m looking forward to in my role – but simply put – it’s impact. In many ways, this is a dream job. David Yurman is an iconic brand that is poised for incredible, continued growth and I see my role squarely linked to helping support Evan and the organization to capture that full potential.