Recent Retailing Alumni Share How the TJLC Prepared Them for a Great Career
Annelise, Rosie, Cody* and Chelsea all have very different careers, but found their start at the Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing
The Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing (TJLC) and the retailing and consumer sciences degree program have been fortunate, over the years, to have student leaders that demonstrated great passion, intelligence and ambition for the retailing industry. These young professionals have already made amazing strides in their respective careers, all of which have gone different directions in this varied industry
While these students – epitomized by the likes of Annelise, Rosie, Cody* and Chelsea – have gone quite different directions, there are many common traits in how they approached their time in the academic program and through activities in the Lundgren Center.
shared that she was “…very fortunate to have found my place at the retailing center. If I had not pursued retailing, I don’t believe I would have found a career field that brings me so much happiness and fulfillment. It’s an honor to be an alumna of the retailing and consumer sciences program and to have had such an active involvement with the retailing center.” Today, Annelise is the store manager for REI Co-op in Memphis, Tennessee after graduating with her degree in retailing and consumer sciences. But, that is a severe understatement of her success. She started her career with REI in June 2015 in Portland, Oregon before transitioning within the year to Atlanta, Georgia. In Atlanta, she began as an assistant manager in one of the poorer performing stores in the district. After two years of hard work and determination, her store was announced as the South District store of the year beating out 17 other stores for the title. That success led to her being selected for not only a store manager role but one in a new store in Memphis. She reflected that “…it was the most inspiring and rewarding experience I have had so far in my career. Building a store culture and representing an 80-year-old co-op in a new city has been a delight and I am appreciative for the opportunity.”
Cody Villaneuva* took a very different path. Unlike Annelise, Cody found himself in a corporate role with Macy’s where he has led several different categories. Upon graduation, Cody moved to New York City to start his merchandising career where he built financial plans and assortment strategies that, in his words, “merge the artistic vision and financial goals” of the company. He trained in the Executive Development Program for Financial Planning and Forecasting, leading to his first role as a financial forecaster for Fine Jewelry and Watches. There, he helped grow the diamond business by $20M, and then accepted the assistant buyer role for the Diamond Wedding team. As an assistant buyer, he developed assortment strategies for diamond studs and anniversary bands and helped launch Macys’ exclusive diamond brand in partnership with De Beers. Most recently, he was promoted to the associate financial planner in Beauty, where he currently manages the prestige makeup business and planned the launch of Giorgio Armani Beauty.
To add even more diversity to the career paths of our students, Rosie Boulden took an even different path from store management pursued by Annelise and buying and financial planning by Cody. Rosie found herself immersed in product development at Walmart.com in the San Francisco bay area. After graduating in May, 2018, Rosie has been working at Walmart eCommerce as a Product Development Specialist. Her job entails leading product production for Walmart’s Home Private brands and since joining the team, she has helped launched three new brands. She shared that her typical day includes tracking products from commitment to site launch, identifying gaps in their assortment in comparison to the competition, and helping to inform launch calendar planning in order to deliver brand plans that align with the financial deliverables of the business. She said that her “…favorite part of my job is building products from the ground up, and curating collections. It’s the perfect combination of analytical and creative.”
Chelsea Suitos has blended her athletic pursuits – she was a member of the University of Arizona’s top ranked women’s softball team – with a career at Nike. After leaving the university, Chelsea accepted a full-time role at Nike’s world headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon within Merchandising after having done an internship with the company the previous year; something she gained through her association with the retailing center. In her full time role, she started as an Associate Merchant on an Acceleration Program for the Sportswear (lifestyle) business for Nike.com, then moved up to Global Women’s Sportswear Apparel Merchandising. Since then, she has been promoted to Merchandising Manager for Softball and Baseball which is close to her heart as a former Division I and National Team Softball Athlete. This career path continues today as she is currently driving a new fit initiative for Softball that has just launched at Dick’s Sporting Goods and Nike.com and she is currently stretching on to the company’s Brand Team to help with the USA Softball Olympic plans.
These four young professionals have taken very different paths in their young careers that reflects the diverse interests and passions of the students in the retailing and consumer sciences program. But a common denominator among these four emerging leaders is their engagement as a student within the university, in their academic major and with the Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing. Cody shared that “the TJLC has played a key role in my current success and provided me with the resources to build a solid foundation in the retail industry. With developmental opportunities to complement the curriculum in the retailing and consumers sciences major, I was able to build the confidence to become a leader within my career.” Cody’s participation on the Center’s Student Advisory Board, attending study tours, and participating in various competitions such as the NRF Next Generation scholarship and Fashion Scholarship Fund, all contributed to his growth. “I built a robust understanding of retail before starting my career, allowing me the opportunity to lead several initiatives since I have been with the company.”
The connection with the academic program to which Cody refers was instrumental in all of these alumni’s successes. “I believe that the retailing center helped me tremendously with networking with my current employer.” mentioned Annelise. “I was able to catch up to the fast retail environment pace and have a solid understanding of what makes a business successful and ultimately what I can do to be effective in my current role as a manager and leader.” For Chelsea, the industry-based perspective of faculty was critical to her making the connection between the theory and actual practice. She shared that “it wasn’t a ‘by the book’ approach, but more so based off of professors’ experience within the field and how it is currently evolving today.”
As a former President of the Student Advisory Board as well as a student employee within the Center, Rosie was engaged in many activities offered through the Center from both of these vantage points. This gave her a unique perspective to how students are able to engage its programming. For her, this involvement was instrumental to her success. “I became so involved with the Lundgren Center and I truly loved the people and enjoyed participating in all the activities. I think the Center helped me find my passion for retail and learn what it takes to dedicate yourself to something. In my job today, I am still just as passionate about retail (maybe more!), and I have fully immersed myself in my role.”
One of the most important aspects of these alumni’s experience with the Lundgren Center was the connection to internships and full hire opportunities with our Corporate Advisory Board member companies as well as other professional development engagements supported by these companies. Rosie mentioned that “the retail center had multiple retailers come to campus throughout the year to educate students on their company culture or to offer professional advice on how to write a resume and how to interview. It was workshops such as these that helped me stay passionate about the retail industry and hungry for landing my dream job.”
For Annelise, the connection between the Lundgren Center and REI was one of the major reasons she pursued her degree in retailing and consumer sciences. Annelise shared that “the retailing center and REI have had a long-standing partnership and it was one of the big reasons that I wanted to pursue getting my degree in retail and consumer sciences.” She added that “I had attended several information sessions with REI at the retailing center and knew that this was a company with which I wanted to pursue my career.” Chelsea echoed this perspective as it relates to her growing career with Nike. She noted that “I do not think my opportunity with Nike would’ve happened if it wasn’t for that connection to the company through the Lundgren Center, so for that – I am extremely thankful.” Cody was able to engage with Macy’s over several years of his involvement with the program and Lundgren Center beginning with the Global Retailing Ideas Summit and other on-campus events. As a junior, he received an offer for an internship which then led to his full time position the following summer.
Annelise, Cody, Chelsea and Rosie are truly emblematic of the professionalism and engagement that the students in the retailing and consumer sciences program and the Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing. Cody sums up the attitude of these four students aptly when he shared, “I look forward to continue making an impact on the retail industry and am thankful for the knowledge and resources that have shaped me into becoming the leader I am today.”
*Beginning Fall 2020, Cody Villaneuva will be leaving Macy's to pursue an MBA at Harvard Business School in Boston, Massachusetts.