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Cartier’s Mercedes Abramo on Cultivating Female Leaders and Speaking Up

The first female president to lead the luxury giant in the US is spearheading meaningful change.

President of Cartier Mercedes Abramo Julie Skarratt

When Mercedes Abramo took the helm at Cartier North America in 2014, it was a considerable achievement: She was the first female president to lead the luxury giant in this country since it was established here by Pierre Cartier in 1909. Abramo has been a skillful force in the corporate world, projecting a calm, polished demeanor while spearheading meaningful changes and driving sales at a time when many of her competitors in the jewelry and watch sector are struggling.

Under her charge, Cartier renovated and expanded its historic Fifth Avenue Mansion, successfully launched new collections and customer-facing initiatives, and championed getting more women into the C-suite. To that end, the company is hosting this year’s annual Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards—an international competition for female entrepreneurs working to solve global challenges—for the first time in North America. At the May event, Cartier will announce seven winners (selected from about 2,900 global applicants), who will each receive $100,000 toward the development of their project, and 14 finalists, each given $30,000.

What’s the one thing you have to do every day to stay sane?

Ideally, a workout.

Your biggest annoyance at work?


The best advice you were given?

Get comfortable being uncomfortable. The more you’re exposed to new things—even if uncomfortable— the more you can ultimately learn and grow.

What would you tell your younger self?

Speak up more. You have a voice; use it.

What do you look for in an employee?

Passion, attention to detail, strategic thinking, dedication, willingness to learn, having a point of view.

Email, text or phone?

Depends on the message and context, as all are important today. Email for business organization and communication; text for quick answers and especially for family; phone for that human connection, which we all still need.

Your favorite app?

We recently launched Yammer internally at work. It helps keep me connected and engaged with my teams, in a fun way.

What do you want to improve in your work life?

I’m always working to be more efficient with my time, but it’s a continual challenge. Work-life balance is really more of a “blend,” especially when working for a global company. Taking time to manage my own energy is something I am reading a lot about, and I’m implementing strategies to help in this area.

What’s something you’re not good at?

Singing. Never take me to karaoke—or be prepared.

The biggest challenge you have running a company?

As Cartier continues to grow, making sure I stay connected to all of our team members— hence my fondness for Yammer—especially those closest to our clients.

How do you cultivate female leaders?

Supporting and empowering women is something deeply anchored in the culture of our company. I’m incredibly proud to do my part to mentor and encourage female leaders and ultimately create an environment at Cartier where all our employees have equal opportunities to succeed.

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