Googled: Laura Sen ’78

Published: September 2009

It’s always been important to me to do what you want and say what you want,” Laura Sen told the New York Times last spring after she was appointed CEO of BJ’s Wholesale Club, a Fortune 500 company with 180 retail stores in 15 eastern states from Maine to Ohio to Florida. This determination and initiative got an early test during her junior year abroad in Paris, when her housing suddenly evaporated. “The college had arranged for me to live in the apartment of an 84-year-old woman. She fell ill after I arrived. By New Year’s she was dead,” Sen recalled. Rather than head home, Sen became an au pair in Paris. She graduated as a French major.

In 2002, Sen, then a senior vice president at BJ’s, was passed over for the CEO position after 12 years with the company. She left the following year to start her own consulting firm but in 2007 returned as an executive vice president. As CEO, she has led BJ’s response to the economic downturn. “We are proud to help members stretch their food budgets,” she said in April 2009, when BJ’s announced it would begin accepting food stamps. In August, BJ’s reported second-quarter results that exceeded analysts’ expectations.

This feature was posted on Friday, September 25, 2009 and is filed under Research.