LAURA J. ALBER
Director, President and Chief Executive Officer
Laura Alber is Williams-Sonoma, Inc.'s President and Chief Executive Officer, and was elected to the Board effective May 2010. She is responsible for setting the company's strategic direction, keeping its 20,000-plus associates focused on delivering world-class service to its customers, and delivering on the company's mission to enhance its customers' lives at home.
Ms. Alber is a retail executive who blends a merchandising point of view with brand development and a global vision. She joined Williams-Sonoma, Inc. in 1995 as a Senior Buyer for the Pottery Barn brand, and since that time has held numerous brand management and executive roles within the company, including: President, Pottery Barn Brands; Executive Vice President, Pottery Barn Merchandising; and Senior Vice President Pottery Barn Catalog and Pottery Barn Kids Retail.
Prior to Ms. Alber's appointment as CEO, she served as President, Williams-Sonoma, Inc. since 2006. In that role, she was responsible for leading the Pottery Barn brands and their retail stores, as well as the company's global supply chain, distribution, and worldwide logistics strategies, and expansion into the Middle East. In 2009, she added accountability and oversight of the West Elm brand.
Under Ms. Alber's leadership, several of the company's most impressive growth strategies have been incubated, including the creation of Pottery Barn Kids, Pottery Barn Bed + Bath, and PBteen. Her strong merchandising point of view has led the Pottery Barn brands through their most successful years of business, and she continues to lead the company's growth and profitability. Her top priorities include strengthening and growing the brands, maximizing the ecommerce business, continuing the company's international expansion, driving supply chain efficiencies, and attracting and retaining top talent.
Ms. Alber has over 20 years of retail experience, and prior to Williams-Sonoma, Inc., worked at Gap Inc., Contempo Casuals, and was a successful small business owner.
Ms. Alber received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania.
Chairman of the Board
Adrian Bellamy was born in England, educated in Southern Rhodesia and graduated from the University of South Africa with Bachelor of Commerce and MBL degrees. Following an early career in finance, Mr. Bellamy moved into retail in the late 1960s. After seven years as Chief Executive Officer of a public company, he emigrated to the United States to become Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of a private retailer.
Mr. Bellamy was selected to serve as non-executive Chairman of the Board of Williams-Sonoma, Inc. by its Board effective May 2010. Having joined the Board in 1997, he previously served as Chairman of the Compensation Committee and as a member of the Nominations and Corporate Governance Committee.
Williams-Sonoma, Inc.'s longest serving outside board member, Mr. Bellamy, has extensive experience in retail as both an executive and as a board member, having served as Chairman and CEO of DFS Group Ltd. for 12 years and on the boards as Chairman of Gucci and The Body Shop. He also currently serves as a Director of Gap Inc. and is Chairman of Reckitt Benckiser plc.
CHARLES E. "CHUCK" WILLIAMS
Founder and Director Emeritus
On a vacation trip to Paris in 1953, Chuck Williams first encountered one of France's glories: its cookware. The large array of pots and pans, baking equipment and utensils were ordinary by French standards, but he recognized their superiority over anything available to American home cooks. Having learned to cook as a small child, he knew cookware; as a self-taught carpenter and contractor, he respected hardworking, well-designed tools.
Upon Mr. Williams return to Sonoma, the Northern California town where he had settled after World War II, he purchased a small commercial building and began remodeling it into shops for rental income. Remembering the marvelous cooking equipment he had seen in France, he decided to turn one of the commercial spaces into a kitchenware shop specializing in French cookware. On September 15, 1956, Williams-Sonoma opened its doors.
Mr. Williams moved his store to San Francisco's Sutter Street in 1958. With the continuing growth of the business, he created its first catalog, which was mailed to 5,000 homes in 1972. In 1973, a second store was opened in Beverly Hills. Today, the company operates over 250 Williams-Sonoma stores across the U.S. and Canada.
Mr. Williams has been an integral part of many aspects of the business, from finding unique kitchenware and food items, to providing advice for catalog production and photography, to maintaining relationships with vendors and chefs. He authored five cookbooks and was the General Editor for the Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library, New American Cooking, Savoring, and the Mastering series of cookbooks. The 250 titles of Williams-Sonoma cookbooks represent the largest cookbook series ever sold, with over 30 million sold to date. He has always embraced the ideals of quality merchandise and outstanding customer service. These ideals and his impeccable taste have set the tone for Williams-Sonoma since its inception.
Mr. Williams served on the Board of the American Institute of Wine and Food, the Board of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and has contributed a personal collection of cooking artifacts to the West Coast branch of the CIA at Greystone in St. Helena. He has always been interested in encouraging those who choose a vocation in the culinary arts and has made numerous scholarships available through the CIA and other organizations. In 2002, he was inducted into the CIA's Hall of Fame, and in 2005 he was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters in Culinary Arts degree.
In 1994, the James Beard Foundation named Mr. Williams to the Who's Who of Food and Beverage and in 1995, awarded him with their highest honor, The Lifetime Achievement Award. Bon Appetit magazine named him the Tastemaker of the Year for 1999, he was awarded the 2001 Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and in 2003, he was recognized by the Housewares Foundation as Humanitarian of the Year. Also in 2003, he was the guest of honor at The James Beard Foundation's annual Chefs & Champagne benefit in Sagaponack, New York. In 2006, he was honored as a Visionary Retailer at the seventh annual Giants of Design Awards presented by House Beautiful in New York City.
In 2007, Mr. Williams and Howard Lester, Chairman Emeritus of Williams-Sonoma, Inc., received the Inc. Magazine Bernard A. Goldhirsh Lifetime Achievement Award, an acknowledgement to those who honor the values and virtues of American entrepreneurship. In 2008, Mr. Williams and Mr. Lester received the Direct Marketing Association's highest honor by being inducted into its Hall of Fame.
PATRICK J. CONNOLLY
Director, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer
Pat Connolly is Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer and oversees all aspects of marketing for the company. Mr. Connolly joined Williams-Sonoma, Inc. in May of 1979, and has served as a Director on the company's Board since 1983. During his tenure, he has focused on building the company's direct-to-customer business including the growth and marketing of its seven catalogs, the introduction and development of its e-commerce business, and the strategic implementation of its multi-channel retailing strategy.
Mr. Connolly started his tenure at the company as Vice President of Mail Order, and has held the positions of Senior Vice President, Mail Order, and Executive Vice President, GM Catalog. Prior to joining Williams-Sonoma, Inc., Mr. Connolly held positions with Procter & Gamble, Xerox Computer Services, and founded or co-founded three mail order companies, including Sportswares with tennis star Billie Jean King.
Mr. Connolly has also served on the boards of numerous companies and non-profit organizations. For six years he served on the board of the Direct Marketing Association. He currently serves as Chair of the Management Board of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and as a Director of CafePress.com. He is a frequent speaker on direct marketing and multi-channel retailing.
Mr. Connolly holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Oregon State University and an M.B.A. from Stanford University's Graduate School of Business.
Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer
As Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Ms. Whalen is responsible for overseeing the company's finance, accounting, treasury and investor relations functions.
Ms. Whalen joined Williams-Sonoma, Inc. in 2001 as a leader in the Financial Planning organization and was promoted to Vice President, Corporate Controller in 2003. In 2006, she was made Senior Vice President and given the additional accountability of the company's Global Tax department. She assumed the role of Treasurer in 2011, was appointed acting Chief Financial Officer in March of 2012, and was promoted to Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer in July of 2012.
Ms. Whalen began her career in public accounting with KPMG Peat Marwick. She is a Certified Public Accountant and holds both a BS and a law degree from Pepperdine University.