What’s one experience you had early in your career that shaped who you are at work? That’s the question we posed to five leaders across Target—from stores to distribution centers to merchandising. What did they share back? Stories and lessons on a range of topics, from mentorship and bad bosses to perseverance and those out-of-your-comfort-zone moments. So get ready to take in some wisdom—these are definitely worth a read.
Executive Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer
My first job after graduating from college was as a department manager at Dayton’s department store in Ridgedale Mall in Minnetonka, Minnesota. A few months after I started, I was working my first Black Friday. And this Friday in particular was a special day for me—it was my birthday. I was working on the sales floor when my boss showed up. She was mad about something happening and was clearly frustrated with me. At the time, it didn’t matter that she was actually frustrated about something that wasn’t my area of responsibility. She was angry and upset, and was going to tell me how frustrated she was in front of customers, colleagues and my team. I’ll never forget going into the stockroom, on my birthday, on my first Black Friday, and crying. I felt terrible. And that’s when Claire, a mentor of mine, found me and shared a great leadership perspective. She stopped me and said, “I’m not sure what you’re upset about.” I looked at her, confused. And then she said, "You just got a great lesson: You just learned what kind of manager you are not going to be."
Vice President, Human Resources, Diversity and Inclusion
I often reflect on how lucky I was to be able to start my Target career at the Target distribution center in Tyler, Texas. The opportunity to lead a large team early in my career has been pivotal to my professional journey. While I spent the first few months trying to emulate the leadership of my peers in the building, I remember a conversation I had with a senior leader where he shared with me, “The goal is not to lead like others lead. It is to discover and develop the good leader you are destined to be.” It’s from that experience and many others that I adopted the philosophy that leadership is not about being or leading the perfect person, instead it is about being or leading the imperfect person perfectly.
Group Vice President of more than 70 stores in Minnesota and Wisconsin
When I started my career with Target, I had dreams of becoming a fashion designer and living in New York City. At the time, Target was just a job for me and not a place I planned to have a career. My first assignment was leading a team in apparel. I was fortunate enough to work with a Store Team Leader (STL) who valued development and his team. One day he asked me what I wanted to do with my career, and it was this simple question that made me realize that I could see myself running a store one day. He began to explain the career options in front of me. He was candid, transparent and more than anything, he shared how much he believed in me. This moment changed the trajectory of my career. He emulated leadership qualities I wanted to demonstrate with my team with his genuine connection and interest he showed in building my career. To this day, I credit him with helping me understand the tremendous responsibility I have caring for my team and shaping someone’s career.
Vice President, Corporate Development & Integration
I had just passed the bar exam and as a junior in-house attorney, I was assigned to work on board minutes and state filings for over 50-plus subsidiaries. I was eager to work on different projects so I approached the head of the transactional group and offered to do essentially anything she asked so I could learn about mergers and acquisitions. She took me up on my offer, and I did a lot of grunt work. I took tons of notes, read everything line by line, drafted, re-drafted, proofread, got her coffee, lunch and dinner, and even watched her toddler. But I was able to sit in almost every meeting and call with her and learned a ton about how deals are put together. Through it all, I found a specialty I love, but more importantly I learned that curiosity and a willingness to raise your hand goes a long way.
Group Vice President, Global Supply Chain and Logistics
Within my first year of starting at Target as an Executive Team Leader (ETL) in stores, I was asked to take on a really challenging, turnaround assignment in an area that I had no experience in. I was flattered but scared and didn’t know what to do. Fortunately, I had an advocate by my side, my District Team Leader (DTL) at the time, who believed more in me than I believed in myself. My DTL gave me the encouragement and confidence to take on that challenge. I learned so much during that time by engaging my team, learning from them and giving them the confidence that together, we could accomplish our goals. Since then, I try to do my best to be an advocate and help others achieve their path to pay it forward as a leader.
Thinking about joining the Target team? Visit our Careers pages to learn more about available roles, and check out the Pulse blog to meet more of our team members.
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