October 29, 2018
At Gap Inc., we attract all kinds of creative types to make and produce clothing for our brands, but it’s a small army of former consultants who fill some of our most critical business functions. The transition to Gap Inc. from the client services world is a popular one —
many of our senior and most tenured leaders came from the consulting world, including CIO Sally Gilligan, EVP of Strategy and Chief Customer Officer Sebastian DiGrande, and even our Gap Inc. CEO Art Peck.
We talked to three former consultants —
who now work in Athleta, Old Navy, and Gap Inc.’s Global Supply Chain & Product Operations —
to understand why they chose to shift gears and start a career journey at Gap Inc.
Nneka Nwosu, Senior Manager of Product Strategy at Old Navy
In a nutshell, what do you do at Old Navy?
My team partners closely with merchandising to develop the strategic direction and long-term vision for our core product categories. We champion the market, competitor, and customer point of view to ensure our product strategies are impactful and robust.
How did you get here?
I’ve always had an interest in working directly with product, which was sparked by my first job in merchandise planning. After a stint in corporate finance, I decided to get my MBA and landed a job in consulting with a focus on merchandising. Eventually, I landed in-house at Gap Inc., focused on building new operational capabilities across the company. Last July, I actually made the move to Old Navy and it’s been really exciting to be closer to product again!
How did you chose to leave consulting and to come Gap Inc.?
It was tough to leave, because I loved the work —
but the heavy travel was really burning me out. I even began to dread weekend trips with friends (something I used to love!). I had also recently moved to San Francisco so I just wanted to start building a network out here. Around the same time, I heard about the opportunity in Gap Inc.’s Global Supply Chain & Product Operations, which gave me the chance to look under the hood of a world-class company and find ways to make it better. It was everything I liked about consulting, but I could sleep in my own bed at night —
and on top of that, I found the pay to be competitive.
What’s the best part about your job?
I’m learning so much and I get to interact with really great leaders. I love my team, and I am constantly challenged every day. At Old Navy, we strive for excellence – however, we all want a life too. So, when we are here, we all share the same level of intensity to work hard and get stuff done – but it’s still a really fun atmosphere.
Smita Gupta, Director of Strategy for Gap Inc.’s Global Supply Chain & Product Operations
Tell us about your job in Gap Inc.
My team supports growth across Gap Inc. – both from a strategic perspective and an operational angle. If a brand wants to grow into a new market, channel, or division, we define the processes and technology required to support that strategy and then drive the execution. We also evaluate our existing supply chain to determine how best to flex in support of planned growth – either through new capabilities, additional facilities, or increased automation. It is exciting to sit in a central function and see all the activity across the company!
What made you look for a career change?
My entire work experience came from the consulting world, and I needed another data point. I was on the path to becoming a partner, but I wanted to explore other opportunities to see what other kind of work I enjoyed.
What drew you to Gap Inc.’s Global Supply Chain & Product Operations function?
I knew I wanted to continue my work in supply chain strategy and operations, but it was important that the company I chose valued that work. At Gap Inc., the Global Supply Chain and Product Operations function has a seat at the table, and our work is critical to the business. It was an added bonus that the team was comprised of many former consultants – that made my jump into industry feel less daunting. I felt more comfortable knowing that I would speak the same language and have a shared skillset with my new team.
What would you tell people who are considering making a similar jump?
It’s not as scary as you think! For me, the key was to find a company that supports the work that I like and has people that would support me. At Gap Inc., there is a clear path for upward mobility, whether it’s across functions or brands —
there’s so much opportunity. At the same time, it’s encouraging to see employees carve out a unique career path for themselves, while also supporting their teammates’ success.
Melissa Mackay, Director of Product Operations and Brand Strategy at Athleta
What do you do at Athleta?
My team manages the operations of the business, including the product to market calendar, milestones, and brand performance metrics. This also includes performance and quality wear testing, and part of our team supports the strategy and execution of all tests.
Tell us about your career path prior to this job.
My first jobs were spent on Wall Street doing finance, but I soon realized I wanted to switch gears and follow my passion in retail. When I went back to school for my MBA, I found that people were hesitant to hire me in retail because my core experience was in finance. Consulting was the perfect backdoor entry into retail work, and I loved the challenges it offered me.
What brought you to Gap Inc.?
The reasons I left consulting had nothing to do with the travel —
I enjoyed my assignments around the globe. But Gap Inc. was one of my former company’s big clients, and I kept trying to get on a project —
with zero luck. At the same time, a lot of my co-workers were leaving to take internal roles at the company. That’s when I realized I could stop jockeying for that project and just work in-house.
I interviewed with a handful of really smart female leaders, and it became clear that this was a place that fosters great career growth —
especially in women. That element, combined with the competitive pay, made it a no-brainer.
What’s the best part about your job? What inspires you at Athleta?
The work is real —
and you’re seeing it through from beginning to end. In consulting, you make a lot of beautiful decks, then you walk away and hope for the best. On a personal level, I’m passionate about running and prior to this job, I just didn’t have enough hours in the day to work out. I love working at a place that empowers women to get out and move. I’ve had a significant wellness journey, and going through a big health scare made me see that life is too short to sacrifice the things you love.
Interested in applying for a strategy role? Click here to view job openings at Gap Inc.