Point of No Return

This past weekend I visited Cedar Point for the first time in ten years. While at the park, I decided that I would work up the nerve to ride Top Thrill Dragster. After waiting in line for an hour and a half, I was shuffled closer and closer towards the cars. That’s when the anxiousness set in. Before I knew it I was strapped in the car and out of the loading station ready to be launched over 400 feet into the air at record speeds (120 mph). At that moment, I experienced the point of no return. I had crossed the threshold and there was no going back (regardless how terrified I was).

This week during the internship I experienced a similar point of no return. Thankfully my managers did not launch me 400 feet into the air or send me off at 120 mph. This point of no return surrounded a case study that the interns and I had been working on since the moment we joined Key in early June. The case encompassed four different hypothetical prospect companies that Key was interested in. We were tasked with deciding which prospect was most attractive for a partnership or a merger. The RRG interns were broken into two teams for this project. We named our team Risk Team 6 (in reference to Seal Team 6 – because we’re that good). Throughout the past 8 weeks we worked diligently to bring a presentation together.

At last, on Monday, the big day arrived! In addition to our case being the capstone of our internship, the entire risk leadership team was in attendance including the General Auditor Kevin Ryan. After working on this presentation for 8 weeks, we embarked on our final journey as a team. As we approached the presentation room, my heart began to race. To our nerve’s demise, we were selected to go second. While we waited outside the presentation room, I couldn’t help my mind from wandering back to Cedar Point. I remembered the way I felt as I inched closer and closer to the ride. I recalled the way I felt when I was strapped into that wild ride and just waiting for my turn. While I was waiting for my turn to present, I again experienced that point of no return. We had already completed our research, built our slide deck, and practiced our presentation. We were strapped in and just waiting for someone to pull the trigger.

The minutes passed by like hours, but our turn to present finally came. Our deliverable went off with only a few hiccups .We received positive feedback and insightful questions. Just like my anxious experience on Dragster, our team survived and thrived.

These experiences have thoroughly resonated with me as I reflect on my internship. I encourage anyone who is reading this to never let your fear hold you back from anything. Whether it is flying by at high speeds or impressing the entirely leadership suite; never let your nerves hold you back from anything. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or how much experience you have, or where you come from, if you trust your intuition and silence the self-doubting voicing in your head there is no limit to what can be accomplished.

Check out some of this week’s intern fun:

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Intern Lunch at Carrabbas

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Interns at the Rock Hall!

 

 

 

 

 

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Interns at the Indian’s Game!

 

Opinions expressed are those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent those of KeyBank

L Brands Cares

Though there are 100 interns at L Brands in Columbus, I am one of the only interns in my building, so I really enjoy events where I can meet the other interns and hear about how their internships are going. From the Clippers game we attended at the beginning of the year to the Senior Speaker Series, I am always meeting interns in different parts of the business.

One of these large intern events was an afternoon of volunteering at Camp Mary Orton here in Columbus. The camp offers summer and after-school camps for underprivileged kids and serves as a beautiful camp for retreat groups. We were tasked with doing general ground clean-up of the camp. While trimming trees and mulching trails, I was able to give back and meet other L Brands interns in different functions that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. Even though the weather wasn’t great, it was a chance to get out of the office on a Friday afternoon and have fun while giving back.

I was surprised by how common volunteering is at L Brands. There are so many opportunities to give back, even during work hours. Each week I am approached for a new volunteer activity that L Brands has organized. They can be events going on at the company or community organizations that employees partner with. For example, right now Pelotonia is everywhere-it seems like everyone is riding, donating, or volunteering for the cause. Much more to come on how my volunteer experience goes at Pelotonia in a couple of weeks!

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What’s Your POV?

If you happen to eavesdrop on any sort of meeting about strategy or creative review at Target Optical, you will most likely hear the phrase, “What’s your point of view?”  Your point of view (or more commonly known as POV; acronyms are huge here) is exactly what it sounds like:  your opinion and thoughts on the strategy to a specific project.

From working here, I realized how important it is to have a POV.  When my manager asks me my thoughts on messaging strategy options, she doesn’t want to hear, “Oh I like all of the ideas” or “I don’t think it really matters which one we use”.  She wants to hear my opinion.  More importantly, she wants to hear my reasoning as to how I came to that opinion.

At first the whole POV thing threw me off; it just seemed way too subjective.  As my internship progressed, though, I finally understood it.  Thinking through your POV helps you align with the overall strategy of the project; it helps you develop reasons as to why you think the way you do and how that relates to the overall objective.  Having a POV also shows your team members that you are engaged with and care about what you are working on-never a bad thing!

I bet that your company will be asking for your POV too, even if they don’t explicitly use the phrase POV.  And you better be prepared with an answer when do.

The power of being fearless- Cold Emails

The purpose of this post is to show you how to get anyone in your company to respond to your email. I have had success using the techniques below while interning at PepsiCo.

Disclaimer: The techniques mentioned in this blog post were derived from The Competitive Edge podcast Episode 30.

Before the Email

It is possible to reach ANYONE in your company by phone for a short conversation. If you are not afraid of rejection, you can get in touch with anyone through cold emailing.

How to Find an Email

If your company uses Microsoft Office, you have access to all employees’ email in your company. Steps to get an email are shown in the pictures below

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Articulating the Email

Below is an email I sent to a Senior Vice President at PepsiCo (the equivalent of the CFO for supply chain) asking for career advice.

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The Breakdown

Subject Line

Grab their attention. Make a subject line that will draw attention and sum up why you are emailing them.

My example: Following in Your Footsteps

Introduction

Cut straight to the point; do not waste words on meaningless background facts (hometown, school major, interests etc.). The short introduction is vital; you will capture the person’s attention in the first sentence. Throw something in at the end of the sentence that will make them want to read more.

My Example: I aspire to be as impactful as you have been in PepsiCo and the world.

Gaging interest

The second sentence is the most important part of the email. You must connect on an emotional level here. In my email, I brought up an achievement of his which he is extremely proud of while relating it to myself. Referencing something specific shows you have researched the person and are serious about getting time on his/her calendar. When bringing up a topic that connects you and your targeted executive, keep in mind it can be anything that you relate to. Some examples are an article the person wrote, an interview that he/she gave, a position they held, specific accomplishments or even a personal hobby you both share.

My example: Your influence on Gatorade, my favorite drink, to move it to a Kosher beverage is truly amazing especially because half my family keeps Kosher.

Specific Time – 10,3

Put time on their calendar and be specific. It’s harder for someone to say no if you found an open timeslot on their calendar, exemplify that you have a plan and are not going to waste a second with them. A personal rule of mine is to request ten minutes of their time to ask three questions. Ten minutes is short enough where they can be willing to speak to you but long enough where you can get some good information.

My example: I have put time on your calendar to speak with you on Thursday at 10:00 but will only need ten minutes of your time to ask you three questions.

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Throwing in a blog2 towards the end of your email lightens up the subject matter. Do not use this for every person you email though. You must understand what industry this person is in and if it will be taken in a positive or negative way. If you can find out that the person is easy going definitely throw it in there.

My example: I’m looking forward to your response blog2

Proofread!

Notice how I had a grammar error because I did not proofread. Always double check your work to avoid a costly mistake.

Persistence

Anticipate that the executive will initially deny your request to have a phone call. BE PERSISTENT. I sent my email request three days in a row until the executive accepted my meeting with him.

 

Best of luck and happy interning!

 

More Than Meets the “I”

When I would tell my friends that this summer, I´d be working in the Human Resources department of Inditex, they often gave me quizzical looks, to which I would have to explain, “The company that owns Zara.” This same lack of recognition for the corporation that owns such a well-renown brand is true even here in Spain. In group interviews, one of the first questions the interviewer asks the candidates is if they can name the other brands the company owns. During my time working for Inditex thus far, I´ve learned what a truly incredible company this is, and for more than just Zara – for revolutionizing the fashion world, for their top quality products, for their commitment to sustainability, and for their philanthropic ventures.
Inditex is a Spanish multi-national clothing company started by Amancio Ortega Gauna, who is now the fourth richest man in the world. Ortega founded Inditex in A Coruña, in the north of Spain, in 1963. The first Zara store was opened in 1975, and stores had spread to New York by 1989 and Paris by 1990. Besides bringing quality styles at affordable prices, Inditex revolutionized the fashion world by cutting production time from two months down to two weeks. Their speed and production logistics have made them nearly as famous as the quality of their style. The group designs and manufactures everything by itself, dispatching new designs twice a week to Zara stores.
Today, still headquartered in Galicia, Spain, Inditex is one of the world´s largest fashion distribution groups, with more than 6,249 stores in 77 countries, and employing more than 130,000 people on four different continents – Europe, America, Asia, and Africa. Its vision of fashion based on quality and creativity, and their ability to react to market demands with speed, has enabled the company to enjoy not only rapid but successful and well-received international expansion.
While Zara is indeed the largest of the retail chains, Inditex operates a total of ten brands:
Zara – the flagship brand, with versatile and trendy options for men, women, and children. While it started as a low cost competitor, its quality now matches the best brands in the world.
Pull & Bear – casual and laid back clothing for young adults, with a very urban style, at affordable prices.
Bershka – a more hipster version of the brand Pull & Bear.
Massimo Dutti – preppy and more formal style clothing, for both men and women, comparable to J.Crew.
Stradivarius – for the free spirit, a very hippie-chic feel, comparable to Free People.
Oysho – women´s undergarments, accessories, and bathing suits, comparable to Victoria´s Secret.
Zara Home – merchandise for the home, comparable to Crate and Barrel.
Lefties – the most affordable and youthful of the company´s clothing lines.
Kiddy´s Class – a children’s brand.
Uterqüe – the newest and most expensive brand, offering very fashion-forward styles.
Besides being well-known for its speed and style, Inditex operates with strong corporate values, and collaborates with other organizations and initiatives with similar values, to develop their corporate social responsibility policy. Some examples of partnerships Inditex maintains include: the UN Global Compact, the CEO Water Mandate for conservation of water, Better Work Programme for workers rights, Medicos Sin Fronteras (doctor´s without borders), World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), the Ethical Trading Initiative, and Sustainable Apparel Coalition.
A huge part of their CSR policy is their commitment to sustainability. They call this commitment the “Right to Wear,” stating “Sustainability means the seamless and supported integration of our business model in the community. It means taking a long-term approach with the aim of adding value to society.” This concept is further broken down into five categories:
Clean and safe to wear (customers) – quality of product is a non-negotiable for Inditex, which starts with in-house health and safety standards. Inditex promises to design responsible clothing, obtained from production processes that do no contaminate soil or water.
Teams to wear (employees) – Inditex believes in a responsibility not only to society, but to ourselves, and encourages a corporate culture of critical thinking, teamwork, open communication, and self-imposed high standards. The company is commited to offering policies that ensure a work-life balance, as well, such as paternity leave and adjusting working hours to class schedules.
Inditex also launched a chain of seven stores called “for&from,” which collaborates with social enterprise entities, to integrate employees with disabilities into the workforce. Inditex builds the store, which sells prior-season clothing at a discount, and the stores then becomes self-sufficient. The profits generated fund the social enterprise entities that run the stores.
In addition, Inditex encourages employee volunteerism. In 2013, a project called “Likes” was started, in which employees that are seeking to support specific social or enviornmental causes submit their ideas for votes from their coworkers. Once the project receives enough votes, Inditex donates both cash for funding the project, and employee working hours to volunteer.
Tested to wear (suppliers) –  Inditex produces its clothing from organic cotton or recylced materials, as well as promoting raw materials training and forest management for their suppliers to ensure ecological farming decisions are always being made.
Social to wear (community) – Inditex also supports education and employment programs, as well as humanitarian relief, through its corporate offices. In 2013, the company invested over 23 million euro into community work, supporting 313 non-profit organizations, only 33% of which stayed in Spain. Some of the key projects the company has recently supported are the fight against Ebola, a nutrition program in India, providing care for Syrian refugees in Turkey, and emergency aid to the Nepal earthquake victims.
Green to wear (environment) – Inditex operates under a policy that allows the company to maintain their pace of growth, while complying to stringent environement standards. All stores are kept as eco-efficient as possible. This strategy is broken down into three forms – water conservation, energy management, and biodiversity protection.

Inditex is a company not only setting the gold standard for their industry, but commited to a strong CSR policy that puts people first – both employees and customers, that takes care of the environment and community their products come from, and that utilizes their success to give back to both local and global causes.