Immediately after college I was hired by Neiman Marcus, and placed in the merchant development program. During the subsequent three years, I worked in women’s apparel as a merchandiser and planner. My responsibilites included managing a nation-wide team of selling specialists, negotiations with vendors, financial projections/management, and traveling to New York and Germany on buying trips.
I was then promoted to department manager of women’s sportswear at the new store in Charlotte, North Carolina. I was selected to be part of the store-opening team, giving me the opportunity to hire and train my own staff as well as to see the operational and logistical challenges of opening a new store. I instituted a customer service platform we called “Changing Lives”. It was designed to inspire my team to go beyond a sales mindset to a human-centric approach that was grounded in recognizing the dignity present in all of us.
The final role of my Neiman Marcus career was general manager of a concept store, called Cusp, in McLean, Virginia. As general manager, I had full leadership responsibility for the store, including sales and service, human resources, inventory, visual, profit & loss. Additionally, I managed two unusual processes: moving the store from one location to another, and a major turnover of staff.
My eight years in management in the private sector adds valuable insight to my research and teaching. The experiences of working with people to achieve objectives, and living the discipline of business metrics, help bring vitality to business theory.