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A nine-month rotation to learn the critical aspects of the retail business. Program overview below.
Education: The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, BS in Marketing
How started at Gap Inc.: Joined the Retail Management Program in 2008. Currently Senior Merchandiser for Gap China Women’s Apparel, Accessories and Body in Shanghai, China
What is the Retail Management Program?
It’s the best nine months of your life! You rotate through three functions — Merchandising, Inventory Management and Production — within three different brands and learn about how each works before deciding which one is right for you.
When did you participate?
From October 2008 to June 2009. I had the opportunity to work in Banana Republic, Old Navy Online and Banana Republic Factory Stores. Each function and each brand work uniquely so it’s great to get an understanding of what that function does and how it differs between each different product offering. Working for three different business models —retail stores, online and outlet —also gave me the chance to see what it takes to successfully operate in different channels.
Also, you get to see the range of team dynamics working in such diverse brands, all under the same Gap Inc. roof. After I finished the program, I worked in merchandising for Banana Republic Women’s Bottoms.
What was the experience like?
Before RMP, I had never worked in a retail store so the in-store experiences before each rotation were invaluable. I learned about our customers and was able to contribute right off the bat in each position. During my first week in Banana Republic, I was able to share some feedback straight from customers in the store, which led the team to change the visual set-up and increase sales!
The mix of classes and on-the-job training give you a comprehensive perspective of each function, while the assigned projects allow you to directly impact the business. It is challenging, fun and absolutely worth it—truly a top notch program.
How did this program strengthen your skills?
RMP was the foundation for my career and the stepping stone to getting to where I am today. The program helped me to refine my product eye and continuously stand for what the customer wants. Understanding the other functions that I work with and learning the best practices from each brand have also made me a better partner. For instance, I know clearly what is driving my cost up each season and can work with my production team to effectively negotiate with our vendors. I understand what financial metrics to focus on to increase sales and manage my business.
After spending an amazing two years doing merchandising for our Banana Republic Women’s business in North America, I wanted to see what business was like in our growing international markets. I moved to New York and took on a position with Gap China, then about a year later I was offered a position to help start a merchandising team in Shanghai. Without RMP, I don’t think it would have happened.
RMP is the best networking platform; when I first started, I would have never thought that I would be living in China, growing one of the biggest brands in the world! I owe it to the awesome people I met during RMP.
What advice might you share with someone considering applying?
There’s something for everyone at Gap Inc. Whether you love fashion and want to develop product or enjoy taking risks and see it financially pay off, whether you like to work in a small team or large team, at an established brand or a start-up, it is really up to you. If you take advantage of all the program has to offer, you can’t go wrong.
About the Program
Our Retail Management Program is open to external and internal candidates who are dynamic, hard-working individuals with vision, initiative, leadership and excellent communication skills and are looking to dedicate themselves to best-in-industry training and development on the challenging and rewarding business of fashion retailing.
Based in San Francisco, this nine-month program immerses participants in the key pillars of retailing. The Program will focus on:
- Developing entry-level talent and general management capabilities through 3 cross-brand rotations in Inventory Management, Merchandising, and Production, as well as an in-store experience prior to each rotation.
- Providing hands-on experience in running our businesses and understanding the Gap Inc. culture - you'll learn while you work.
- Attending functional specific training classes and general education sessions to build foundational skills and capabilities.
- Interacting with senior management and collaborating on special projects that directly influence the business.
After successfully completing the program, trainees will have an opportunity to work full time in one of the following jobs in our Bay Area offices: Inventory Management Analyst, Assistant Merchandiser, or Assistant Production Manager.
Applications for the 2014 RMP class will re-open in August 2013. If you have specific questions about the program or the application process, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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