Get to Know Shira Goodman, President and CEO of Staples

The 55-year-old Newton resident—a veteran of the office-supply giant who’s racked up degrees from Princeton, Harvard, and MIT—tells us why there’s nothing worse than getting to Logan when the Sox are in town and reveals the most important words an executive will ever need to know.
shira goodman staples president ceo

Illustration Source Courtesy of Staples

Every executive should be able to say four things: I don’t know, I need help, I was wrong, and thank you.

The best advice I’ve ever received is from my father, who loves to remind me that there are no right choices, just choices made right.

One thing the average person doesn’t know about Staples is that our e-commerce and our delivery B2B business is bigger than our retail business. We sell so much more than office products today. In fact, cleaning supplies, promotional products, and food for the break room are some of our fastest-growing businesses.

If I’m having dinner in the city, you’ll find me at Oleana, in Cambridge. I love their vegetarian tasting menu!

When Princeton plays Harvard I’m rooting for Princeton, of course. Go Tigers!

I was first hired at Staples in 1992, by company founder Tom Stemberg and eventual CEO Ron Sargent, to be the first director of marketing and merchandising for the catalog business. At the time, it was a small, $30 million business unit, isolated on the fifth floor of our building. It was nearly impossible to get anyone’s attention. We used to joke that we were the tail of the dog and our goal was just to be the back half of the dog. Well, over the past 24 years, the delivery business has grown to be the head of the dog and our primary growth arm today.

The most important item on my desk is a picture of my husband and three kids making kooky faces at my niece’s wedding. We all look silly and happy.

You can call me a pen-a-holic. I love pens, especially when writing on good-quality paper. But I don’t have a favorite—I try all kinds in all colors. Like most folks, I misplace them a lot, so I don’t use anything too fancy.

The best thing about running a company in the Boston area is being able to recruit talent from our many fantastic schools.

The biggest challenge of running a company in the Boston area is getting to Logan when the Red Sox are playing! But also staying in touch with our customers and associates across the world. I love Boston, but it is very unique and not representative of the breadth of our associates and customers.

When I need to decompress I grab a glass of wine, some popcorn, and a great book.

Staples at a Glance

Fifth-largest Internet retailer in the world

Based in: Framingham
Founded in: 1986
Number of employees worldwide: 75,371
Annual sales: $21.06 billion
Easy Buttons sold: More than 5 million


Chris Sweeney Chris Sweeney, Senior Editor at Boston Magazine csweeney@bostonmagazine.com