Title: general manager of the J.C. Penney store at the Shops at White Oak Village. She recently was awarded the company’s Founder’s Award given to store leaders for outstanding accomplishments and for excelling in the areas of financial performance, customer and client service and business expertise.
Born: March 1982 in Camden, N.C.
Education: East Carolina University, bachelor of science in merchandising, 2008
Career: J.C. Penney, 2001-04; seasonal worker at J.C. Penney, 2004-08; J.C. Penney, 2009-present (general manager at the Virginia Center Commons store, November 2015-November 2017; general manager at the Shops at White Oak Village, November 2017-present)
What part of the metro area do you live?: Williamsburg
Best business decision: “One of the most important things I’ve done as a manager is learn how to become more comfortable getting feedback from my team. I regularly ask for feedback and am open to any ideas that can make me a better leader. Digging deeper than just ‘what do you need from me?’ I ask my team how I can better lead them and, through this, have developed a culture that encourages feedback and improvement.”
Worst business decision: “One thing critical to success, which I learned quite quickly, is not managing associate concerns with urgency. Employees must feel heard and valued, and putting aside their feedback does the opposite. I once lost a valuable employee because I put her feedback on the back burner. This lesson taught me to act with urgency when employees are voicing their frustrations and concerns.”
Mistake you learned the most from: “Failing to give proper recognition is one of the most important things you can do as part of a team. Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way that a simple thank-you can go a long way. Retail is such a fast-paced environment that we can often get trapped in the pace and not take the time to slow down and recognize the work team members are doing. To ensure I don’t let that happen, I have learned to schedule time each week to write a note or provide a small act of appreciation to let our hard-working employees know that I value them.”
What is the biggest challenge/opportunity in the next two to five years: “There is a lot of opportunity in today’s evolving retail industry. Amazon and online shopping have created convenience for consumers. Brick-and-mortar stores must place a heavy emphasis on creating experiences — and that starts with having the right people in our buildings to foster an emotional connection. Our job as retail managers is to find people who are truly passionate about people and retail, and that can be challenging.”
First job after college: J.C. Penney
If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently: “I would have furthered my education and pursued an MBA right after graduation.
Movie or book that inspired you the most, and why?: “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful,” by Marshall Goldsmith. “I love this book because it focuses on the interpersonal skills that hold leaders back — things you may not even be aware are impacting your ability to excel at your job and in your team relationships.”
Favorite/least favorite subject in school: “I loved history because I found it interesting how history repeats itself.”