SC State Alumni on the Fast Track to Success with the Belk Executive Trainee Program

Monday, November 1, 2010

Brittany GreenSC State alumna Brittany Green never thought that she would be involved in fashion merchandising, although she had a deep rooted love for the industry even as a little girl.  Green graduated from SC State in December 2009 with a degree in computer science. Although her family encouraged her to pursue a career in computer science and engineering, she still continued to obtain jobs in retail.

After working with notable companies like the U.S. Department of Energy, Green still maintained a part-time job in retail. She also became a part-time manager with Aldo in Philadelphia, Pa. After a second internship in computer science, Green made the decision that after graduation, she would pursue a career in fashion merchandising. “That’s when I said that this is not for me,” stated Green. “I decided to follow my passion and do what I wanted to do.”

Green’s love for fashion merchandising has evolved from being a part-time retail manager and seasonal associate. She now sits in the Belk corporate office in Charlotte, N.C. as an executive trainee on the fast track to becoming an assistant buyer and ultimately a buyer. Her duties include performing analysis and running reports, just to name a few.

Green’s path to success is being made possible by Belk’s Executive Trainee Program. Eleven merchant and finance trainees successfully completed the corporate training program recently that consisted of 12 weeks of classroom instruction, hands-on training and field assignments. Participants spent four days in local Belk stores overseeing the different aspects of the store. They also toured the distribution center in Blythewood, S.C. and the E-commerce fulfillment center in Charlotte, N.C., and completed a final business project that was presented to the buying office and management team.

Montina MyersTwo SC State alumni were chosen among the 12 buyer trainees for the rigorous program, including Green and May 2010 SC State graduate Montina Myers. Both were elated to participate. “It’s harder than what I thought mentally, but I do love it. I think that I was blessed to have this opportunity,” said Myers.
Diligence is exactly what is required for all participants of Belk’s Executive Trainee Program. According to executive recruiter Audrey Abron, becoming a trainee is not a 9 to 5 and is not the “Project Runway” type environment. “Buying is a huge responsibility in managing a multi-million dollar budget, with little tolerance for making bad decisions,” said Abron. “You must go into it with an analytical mindset to drive business and to impact the bottom line.”

That is exactly why Green and Myers were chosen as Belk trainees. Both recently graduated from the program, and program manager Amy Lewis says they have what it takes to succeed in the industry. “Montina and Brittany are extremely conscientious, hard working and great team players. They are voracious when learning a new system, always wanting to know the how and the why. They probe until they are comfortable with the material at hand,” said Lewis. “I look forward to great things from them.”
Great things should be close for both SC State graduates. They can attribute this to the many skills they have acquired during the Belk Executive Trainee Program. “I completed research on Izod (a clothing company) and turnover optimization, or how fast the merchandise is selling from the floor,” stated Green. Myers also acquired key knowledge on various merchandise systems and corporate culture. “It’s a huge adjustment to see how things start from the bottom, including advertising and e-commerce meetings, keeping track of sales and samples,” stated Myers.

Green and Myers continue to work as Belk executive trainees, but will soon undergo an interview process that may place them as assistant buyers, and they may continue to advance through Belk, according to Lewis. “We have executive trainees that have been promoted to assistant buyers, associate buyers and buyers,” noted Lewis. “I am a program manager in Training and Development and I was a 1993 graduate from the Executive Trainee Program. If you work hard and prove yourself, it is not difficult to advance your career here at Belk.”

To be selected for preliminary interviews for the Belk Executive Trainee Program, candidates must have a four-year degree, preferably in business management, marketing or finance, and must have a 3.3 cumulative grade point average. Retail selling, management and customer service experience are a huge plus for all career tracks. “We are seeking smart candidates who are passionate about a fast-track career in the fashion/retail industry,” said Abron. “They must have business savvy, personality, outstanding work ethic, and the patience and drive to make a difference in the workplace and in the community.”

For more information on the Belk Executive Trainee Program, contact the SC State University Career Center at (803) 536-7033.