November 15, 2021
Meet Stephanie Grakowsky, on Old Navy’s Allocation team. Stephanie first began her career with Old Navy in one of the brand’s stores and then, after jumping on the opportunity to join the IMR program, was hired onto the Inventory Management team at HQ. Hear about Stephanie’s career journey and her transition from the field to HQ!
How did you get to where you are now?
I worked in the field for Old Navy for 10 years in a small district in Western NY and HQ was always a long-term goal, but it never quite felt attainable. It wasn’t until I completed the Ascend Program, collaborating with a few people from HQ along the way, that I felt like making the transition to HQ was a real possibility for me. Understanding and analyzing financials and strategic thinking were always things I enjoyed doing, and I was told Inventory Management was something I should consider. At the time, I had no idea what IM was but, as I was researching, I found a job posting for the IMR program and it seemed like the perfect way to make the transition.
What attracted you to the IMR program?
The idea of leaving the field – where I was comfortable and had been successful – and moving to something completely different and new was daunting! The IMR program seemed like it offered the right amount of structure and support to make the transition as smooth. I knew it would be a huge pivot in my career as I was essentially starting over, so the idea of a 90-day immersion program gave me the confidence to feel like I wouldn’t be completely on my own as I navigated through this change.
Looking back at your experience in the program, what do you wish you knew then that you know now?
I wish I had a full understanding ahead of time of just how extremely different everything would be. I went into IMR thinking that 10 years of ON store experience would set me up for an easy transition into IM, but there were times I felt like I had stepped into an entirely new world. The vernacular, while familiar, was still overwhelming and new. (There were so many acronyms to memorize!) Even the way I worked felt foreign. I knew I’d be in front of a computer, but getting used to sitting at a desk and, in my case, virtually learning versus walking figure eights in the store definitely took time to adjust. There’s a difference between knowing it’s going to be different and experiencing just how different it was. There were moments of vulnerability in my first few weeks in IMR where everything felt so overwhelming that I questioned if I had made the right career choice, but trusting my decision, and trusting IMR, I eventually learned to embrace all of the differences and found a way to make it work for me.
How has your career grown/evolved since completing the IMR program?
After completing IMR, I was placed as an Allocation Analyst on the Men’s Graphics team, where I spent a year and a half honing and developing the skills that I had learned during IMR. I’m now advancing my career and moving into to an Allocation Planner position in the Boys Division. Since graduating, IMR, I’ve also gotten involved in Women@Gap – one of the Gap Inc. Equality and Belonging Groups (EBG) – as a member of the Field Ambassador committee, where I’m utilizing my store experience as we explore how to bring the EBGs to the Field.
How has your experience with the IMR program benefitted you?
My participation in IMR set me up for success by giving me the foundation I needed to really learn the theory and understand the “why” behind everything we do in IM. I’ve also stayed connected with IMR, even after I graduated the program, by becoming a member of the IMR Training Committee. Working with the next cycle of participants has helped open new doors and opportunities for me by allowing me to interact with more and more people within IM.
What do you love most about your career in Inventory Management?
I love that my brain is constantly being challenged. There’s always something new to learn or a way to make something we’re doing more accurate and efficient so that we can get the right product to the right store at the right time to service our customers. There’s a culture within IM of striving to make each meeting better than the last, each season better than the last, and each year better than the last that keeps us on our toes and makes it so much fun to start working each day.
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