By Samuel T. Clover ’91
At Club Monaco, Ralph Lauren’s hip clothing and accessories division, Kathryn Kerge ’94 oversees the “nuts and bolts” aspects of human resources. She handles recruiting, employee relations, and performance management, as well as helping determine organizational strategy for Ralph Lauren’s international expansion.
“I feel like there are very few opportunities, especially in this economy, to be in an environment that’s actually growing and pushing the envelope in its business,” says Kerge, who recently joined the company after running her own human resources firm, Kerge Consulting, for four years.
Club Monaco designs, manufactures, and markets clothing and accessories that feature an updated classic style. The New York-based company, which operates 66 stores throughout North America, recently opened ones in Hong Kong, Seoul, South Korea, and Dubai, and is planning aggressive international growth.
“Club Monaco is doing phenomenally well,” she says. “We’re about to expand in Europe and Asia, to the point where our international business will probably be exponentially larger than our business in the U.S.
The foundation of Kerge’s management acumen was laid at Lafayette, where she majored in psychology and French, and was deepened by a master’s degree in organizational development from Columbia University. She says she’s never met an alumnus who hasn’t appreciated his or her time on the hill.
“As you get older and notice where different alumni have landed, you can see the value of a Lafayette degree,” she says.
With extensive experience in pharmaceuticals, technology, retail, law, and media, she broke into the fashion industry at the Italian women’s label Miss Sixty. As the company’s head of human resources for its U.S. division, she implemented a strategy to support an aggressive multi-state retail expansion and over 200 percent growth in three years.
That fashion industry savvy serves her well at Club Monaco.
“Our focus is on the teams in the U.S. who support and convey brand strategy to the overseas teams,” she says. “A lot of my time is spent in New York working with the CEO and COO on understanding what the big picture looks like.”
Kerge’s global vision stems in part from her passion for visiting developing countries, which often involves community service.
“My husband and I are adventure travelers,” she says. “For example, we took a trip to Nicaragua with a group of people and partnered with someone who runs a school there. We all brought suitcases full of clothes, note pads, pencils, and rulers, because in a country like Nicaragua, even having pencils is a big deal.”
Kerge, the daughter of James Kerge ’63, held senior human resources positions across a diverse group of industries for a decade before founding Kerge Consulting.