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.

Week 2 – Fun Day and Project Time

Hello again,

They say the retail industry is fast-paced, and I can definitely attest to that because week one flew by fast. Two main things happened this week for me: A King’s Island fun day and getting assigned my project. 

  1. King’s Island Fun Day
    I cannot stress the importance of getting to know your leadership team and the people you work with.  This was one of my goals this week, and it came at the perfect time because my entire leadership team and I went to King’s Island for a fun day! It was a great opportunity to connect with people in a non-professional setting, and to learn more about each other on a personal level.
    kingsislandAsk a few simple questions and let the conversation take itself from there. Here are a few simple questions that I personally like asking:- How long have you been working at ______?
    – How did you get into the ______ industry?
    – What is your greatest piece of advice that you can give to someone new to this industry/company?

    And make sure to share about your passions and experiences as well! You will be surprised at how willingly people are towards listening to you. This has made for some great conversations for me, and it has allowed me to feel more a part of the family at Macy’s.

  2. Project Time
    This week I also got assigned my biggest project for the summer. I will be working on a benefit program that Macy’s offers and give a final presentation at the end of my internship to the district executives, my VPSM (Vice President Store Manager), and my mentor. The goal of this project is to establish an action plan that will drive participation towards the use of this program which then should translate into sales. In order to achieve this goal, I will have to get my team on board with the plan and mentor them through coaching strategies. My conversations with my team of sales associates is going to be crucial in driving this initiative.Macy’s is all about people working for people. And this idea is engrained through coaching and mentoring at Macy’s. You never coach through numbers, but instead, you coach through behaviors. One thing that I have learned is inspiration comes from example. Here are a few helpful tips that I have learned when placed in a position to lead and inspire people:
    – Have a clear goal and a reasonable approach to achieve it
    – Recognize contribution
    – Begin with what is working, then build on it
    – Focus on the strengths of each person instead of weaknesses
    – Clear hurdles that are in your team’s way
    – Roll up your sleeves, show your team that you can contribute
    – Recognize your team every week
    – Inspire your team by keeping your commitments to them
    – Show and communicate your progress towards your goal
    – MAKE IT FUN.

Hope this week’s post provided some good insights for you guys! I look forward to sharing more of my experiences for next week. I will end on this quote that I saw earlier this week which spoke to me:

“You gotta skate to where the puck is going to be, not where the puck is now.”

Until next week, enjoy and take care!

– Justin

 

Beginnings

Two weeks into my internship, and I can tell it’s going to be the summer of a lifetime. Having the chance to both live and work in Madrid has incited more thoughts and feelings than I can truly process; the greatest of these, though, is feeling overwhelmingly grateful. Every day, I go to work in the Human Resources department of Inditex. Inditex is a European fashion company that owns brands like Zara and Pull&Bear; we process applications and resumes to hire associates for the fast approaching sales that take place in Spain the entire month of July. As absolutely no English is to be spoken in my office, not only am I learning about the hiring process of a global corporation, but I am using and thinking in Spanish more than my six years of classes ever truly required of me. Though professional growth is a goal of every intern over the summer, acclimating to a new culture and company has taught me just as much about myself, and the power of your thoughts, during these first two weeks as it has shown me insight into my professional aspirations.

The first day in a new office can be intimidating. A positive attitude and an open mind can turn any situation into a good one.

Say yes more often. You never know when the dinner you got dragged into going to will be completely paid for by the stranger sitting next to you.

Embrace where you are and who you’re with. While we came here to work, it’s that time spent with the 35 other Ohio State students that I know will be the defining moments of summer.

Don’t take yourself too seriously. We all accidentally call our drinks (bebidas) babies (bebes) sometimes, anyways.

Life is all about people, and the quality of your relationships is dependent on your communication. Never again will I take speaking the same language as everyone around me for granted!

It’s not selfish to prioritize yourself; it’s completely necessary. While living with 35 other students is amazing fun sometimes, other times you need to exercise your independence, and have the confidence in those decisions to not second guess yourself.

Getting lost is FUN. Exploring a new place keeps in perspective just how small your problems are in relation to the rest of the world.

It’s not leaving your comfort zone, it’s expanding your comfort zone. Appreciate the differences you experience, or the lessons you learn. You’ll discover just how capable you truly are.

There are times that being an intern may not be glamorous, but remember to always be grateful.

And the best part about this all is that it’s only the beginning, but that’s the beauty of life.. Every day is a new beginning.

10% of my Internship is Over Already

Week one on the job… Check! This week has actually been a whirlwind of information, names, and emotions. But by the end of the week, I can honestly say that Luxottica Retail is an amazing company and that I am going to learn so much over the summer.

My first day was orientation; Luxottica interns across all the brands learned the ins and outs of Lux’s internal communication system, how to get our badges, and how to navigate the building. (They also warned us that we would likely get lost at least three times. They were definitely right about that one…) The HR department also gave us our welcome gifts, which happened to be a Luxottica water bottle, glasses cleaner, and an Oakley book bag and a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses…I think that was the highlight of my entire day!

The rest of the week I actually got started learning about my projects; I have four, and they all are pretty important to the company. It’s awesome to know that what I accomplish over these next two months will impact the organization, but it is also a lot of information to take in over a short period of time. Luckily, my manager and the team members in the Target Optical department are so awesome, welcoming, friendly, and willing to help.

I’m super excited that Target Optical has such awesome projects for me to work on and is empowering me to be able to complete the work. Cheers to the rest of the summer!

Oh, I forgot to mention that there’s an associate appreciation sale going on this week, meaning I get 50% all sunglasses at Sunglass Hut. Hello new pair of Michael Kors sunglasses!IMG_1844 IMG_1846 IMG_1847 IMG_1850 IMG_1855

I’m Not in Columbus Anymore

I am officially moved in at Xavier University’s apartments in Cincinnati for the next two months for my internship at Luxottica Retail, (I don’t start until Monday, but I wanted to give myself time to move in and figure out a new city) and I already can’t believe how different Cincinnati is from good ole’ Columbus Town.  I also have made a couple discoveries.

Day one mistake:  trying to jog on Xavier Campus; Cincinnati is so hilly! It definitely made my run more difficult than I’m used to and had me looking up gym memberships so I can find a treadmill to run on a relatively flat surface to save my legs from dying every time I run.

Day  one discovery:  Xavier University is small, especially compared to the wonderful Ohio Sate campus I know and love.  At first I thought I was just missing part of campus when I kept jogging by the same buildings but a look at the campus directory told me that I had actually seen the campus in its entirety.  It was definitely a weird feeling considering how big our campus is, and I realized I prefer the big campus feel we have at Ohio State.

Well, three days until I officially start work, not that I’m counting down or anything.

#MyFisherInternship #ExploringCincy