The son of a Canadian Air Force General, James ‘JC’ Curleigh learned the “Plan B” lesson at a young age. “My dad would say, ‘Don’t have a Plan B. Have two Plan A’s,’” Curleigh says. “’Keep your options open and don’t compromise.’” Curleigh has considered that tactic often since being named president of the Levi’s brand in 2012, and the once-struggling company’s story now is that of a comeback. “If you go to work with the intention of re-earning that iconic status every day, it’s amazing what can happen over five years,” he says.
When Curleigh was in high school and college, he and his brothers ran a specialty sports store in Halifax, Nova Scotia, an exhilarating experience that catapulted the brothers to global brand-building leadership positions; Curleigh previously led at KEEN Footwear, Salomon Sports North America and M&M Mars. Inspired by his father, Curleigh has learned important lessons about leadership. “As leaders, we can’t always guarantee success,” he says, “but we are expected to create a compelling vision, set the conditions for success, then lead with confidence.”