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Lessons On Leadership: Elisa Bruno, CEO, Level Shoes

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This article is a part of the 2023 edition of Entrepreneur Middle East’s annual Follow The Leader series, in which enterprise head honchos from the region talk strategy, industry-specific tactics, and professional challenges as they lead their respective businesses to success.

Level Shoes, a homegrown concept that was launched by the Dubai-headquartered luxury retailer Chalhoub Group in 2012, is today billed as “the world’s largest store of authentic footwear for women, men, and kids,” and sitting at the helm of this enterprise today is CEO Elisa Bruno.

As someone who has worked with the likes of Angela Ahrendts (in her time as the former CEO of Burberry) and Ermenegildo Zegna (Chairman and CEO of Ermenegildo Zegna Group), Bruno joined Level Shoes in 2020 armed with all of the insights she had learned from these acclaimed business leaders.

However, in the time she has spent at Level Shoes, Bruno admits to having been awed by the leadership she’s seen first-hand from Chalhoub Group President Patrick Chalhoub- and she has no qualms about admitting that she wants to follow his example. “I have been with Chalhoub Group for just under three years, and within this time, I find that Patrick is a daily example for what a real leader should be,” Bruno explains. “He is deeply integrated in each of his projects, with his attention to detail, alongside his genuine care and respect for each employee. In parallel, he maintains his humor and humanity with each member of the team. I will always remember the day he gave me the opportunity to lead Level Shoes, entrusting me with his ambitious goal to propel the homegrown brand into the international landscape, with an unprecedented digital expansion. This type of leadership is a rare jewel to find in the industry, and I strongly believe that it stems from the lineage of having his forefathers create this example. True leadership begins with humility and genuineness. And I, for one, believe that more leaders can take this example to apply towards their stakeholders.”

Related: Follow The Leader: Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO, Ruder Finn

The Executive Summary: Elisa Bruno reflects on what she considers to be one of the most important things she has learnt about leadership

“I have found that leadership must be strongly founded in authenticity, and the transparency that comes with taking on such an approach. Leadership is not only about the ‘head of a pyramid’- it’s rather the final piece of the puzzle to the very intricate ecosystem an operation requires. It is the insight and retrospective view on my journey that has taught me that at the end of the day, the value of a leader stems directly from their ability to facilitate their team in what they do. Keeping the team and our community at the heart of decision-making, we are able to achieve stronger results.

Here at Level Shoes, we aim to champion innovation and talent to transform the luxury retail environment- and this is not something that we are able to achieve without the utilization of creative, passionate, and dedicated people. Each member of the team brings an intrinsic value, and, as leaders, we need to ensure we set the right example.”

Related: Lessons On Leadership: Natalia Vodianova, Co-Founder,

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