We were seated in small groups of five and six at tables named after trailblazing and trendsetting women from Oprah Winfrey to Queen Latifah. The topic of discussion - "What it takes to succeed personally and professionally."
Several young women from Year Up and Summer Search (non-profits focused on youth empowerment, skills development, and mentoring) joined Gap Inc. employee mentors. A VP of Merchandising, Distribution Facility Director, and Banana Republic Senior Regional Director were among the volunteers who shared insight, enthusiasm and perspective in celebration of Black History Month.
Whether their disparate journeys brought them to Gap Inc. from ivy-covered Harvard yard or the savannas of Zimbabwe, each of the mentors agreed with Sylvette Sawyers, Senior Director of Human Resources that being authentic and true to themselves was essential to their success.
Over tater tots and sliders, these women listened to one another talk about starting new chapters in their lives from landing that first interview to learning English. The whole experience shows that you don’t need to make a big commitment to make a big difference. Both the mentees and mentors left the two-hour encounter inspired and renewed with takeaways like these from our mentors:
- “Do what you think is right regardless of what others may think.” – Christiane Pendarvis, VP Merchandising, Old Navy.
- “It’s important to dream big and apply yourself.” – Nancy Kawenda, Distribution Facility Director
- “A trailblazer sees the future, and demonstrates the courage to bring it to fruition.” – Susan Goss Brown, West Coast Sr. Regional Director, Banana Republic
And my favorite is this nugget of good hand-me-down advice shared by one of the mentees: “Failing forward is still moving forward.”