Steve Peters, Banana Republic’s Senior Vice President of Stores and Operations, has made a lot of moves over the years as he’s risen through the ranks at Gap Inc. The biggest one yet happened this year when he left Old Navy after nearly 14 years to lead stores for Banana Republic. Steve shared his thoughts about moving around the country, moving up in the company and moving to a new brand.
You’ve crisscrossed the U.S. for Gap Inc.! Tell us about your career path.
I started as the Old Navy district manager in Salt Lake City in 2003, and just kept on moving from there. I became regional director in the Great Lakes, based in Detroit – then moved to Boston when that region expanded, then went to San Francisco to become senior director of store operations.
Next I was promoted to Central Territory VP, based in Chicago, and found my way back to California to lead the West Territory. In April of this year, I came over to Banana Republic.
What's your advice for being resilient while making so many moves to grow your career?
Well, my family and I are in it together – my wife, Jamie, and my son, Chaz, have been huge supporters of my goals. Working for a company that supports me matters, too.
And staying focused is really important. My goal was never really to get promoted. Instead, the one thing I’ve always wanted to do is make a difference for my teams and the customers we serve. Growing my career has been about what I'm learning, how I'm learning, and serving my team.
Old Navy to Banana Republic feels like a pretty big leap to make — they’re two very different brands. What has felt different to you after the move?
The things that feel different are all very brand-related; specifically, the differences between the two brands’ customers, competitors and store experience.
Coming to work for Banana Republic has been a super energizing and engaging experience. Having the opportunity to learn more about our customers and what they expect, and about our competitors and the market share we want to steal from them, is an awesome challenge.
And what has stayed the same?
I believe certain things in retail are agnostic regardless of what you're selling: leadership, staffing your business with talented people, providing your customers with a schedule that meets their needs, replenishing the goods you sell (could you imagine going to a gas station and finding out they forgot to replenish the gas?!) and creating loyal customers.
A lot of people in retail careers work for a number of different companies. Why have you stayed with Gap Inc.?
First, our culture. Given our size and scale, you'd think it would be difficult to know everyone and get things done. But we have a very intimate organization where everyone has the opportunity to know each other and build relationships. Second, the fact that no matter where you work — in a store, district, region, territory or headquarters — you can make a difference.
When you think about your future at Gap Inc., what makes you excited?
I hope to have a hand in developing the company’s future leaders – to watch them grow the organization beyond what it’s ever been.