Advancing through Gap Inc. from a job in stores to a gig at headquarters is an amazing way to build a career—just ask Carrie Thomas, senior marketing manager for Old Navy Global Consumer Payments. She started her Gap Inc. career in 2006 as the merchandise presentation supervisor at the Banana Republic store in L.A.’s Glendale Galleria and became part of the headquarters team in 2012; at HQ, she’s also co-chair of the company’s African American Networking Group (AANG). And she’s loved her journey every step of the way.
What do you do in your job, and what cool things are you working on right now?
I focus on acquiring new customers for the Old Navy Card by working with our amazing field teams and leaders. Since the card is one of our customer loyalty programs, right now I’m working with our Loyalty Expert Program team to look at all aspects of loyalty—especially how to discuss it with our customers, how it affects everyday business and how it helps retain our best customers.
What skills did you bring from stores to your HQ job, and what appealed to you about making the leap?
I wanted to be able to impact the business from the back end rather than on the front end—and I was able to do that by bringing along my knowledge of how a store operates. I knew how to take the store’s point of view and the customer’s experience into consideration whenever we did something new or different. (After I got here, I learned how much it takes to make a promotion or event come to life in a store. I had no idea how much work was involved!)
Did you or do you have a professional mentor? What have you gotten from that relationship?
Susan Goss Brown, VP Stores & Ops for Athleta, used to be my regional director at Banana Republic. After my first store visit with her, she pulled me aside and said, “I want to see you succeed. Let me know if you ever need anything.” Having a woman in leadership who looked like me was inspiring, and to have her make that kind of investment was exciting. I still rely on her today for career guidance and advice.
How has co-chairing the AANG had an impact on your work life?
It has opened my eyes to a new world at Gap Inc.: There’s so much being done to ensure an environment of belonging for everyone. AANG opens doors to discussions of issues and hot topics, serves as a multi-faceted resource for employees and provides opportunities to celebrate African American culture. It's exciting and humbling to have a hand in that work.
Who do you admire most in the fashion industry?
I actually admire the stylists even more than the designers (is that blasphemy?). I appreciate the thought and vision involved in putting together an entire look. Hair, accessories, makeup—all of it makes an impression.
What’s your workplace motto?
“Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.” Don’t let someone say “no” to your new job opportunities, new ideas, new strategies, new approaches or new experiences. The beauty of working for a company like Gap Inc. is that the possibilities are endless. Since we do more than sell clothes, you can do more than sell clothes!