October 15, 2021
Stories of empowered women paving the way for innovation
With the holiday season upon us, our fulfillment and logistics teams are busier than ever. As they gear up for the most exciting time of year and launch new technologies on the heels of recent campus expansions, we were thrilled to talk to the women across these teams who are driving innovation in an industry ripe for change.
What we found, ultimately, was that their passion and successes are rooted deeply in the inclusive culture they’ve experienced at Gap Inc., particularly in an industry known to lag in having gender diverse leadership.
Outside of the demands of holiday and peak season, in efforts to tackle the elephant in the room, the first question we asked was around barriers faced as female decision-makers in a male-dominant industry. Darlene Borges, leader of Operations at Fresno, CA, had this to say. “For me, it’s about how I deliver results. In my job, you do have to be aggressive and direct. And while society might attribute those qualities to being masculine, at Gap I think it’s more about just getting the job done, no matter who you are.”
Gap Inc.’s culture of Building extraordinary talent has shaped the way Darlene sees the supply chain and fulfillment industries. In Darlene’s eyes, it’s a clean slate of opportunity for any involved, as long as you perform well.
“When you’re in your job and delivering results, that gets noticed.”
In her 16 years at Gap, Darlene has had progressive roles of growth. And she credits much of her success and upward trajectory to having mentors and managers along the way who consistently pushed for excellence and always recognized talent.
In addition to its focus on Building extraordinary talent, Gap Inc.’s fulfillment team is also known to Try fast, learn fast, and think big. In fact, its innovative approach to testing, adopting and globally launching new technologies is the primary reason Christine Miller, operations leader at Fishkill, NY, decided to join the team.
In an interview with Christine, she recalled the many times during her career where it was often difficult to get leaders on board with implementing new technologies and creating new ways of working. Never deterred, Christine spent much of her time at trade shows and networking events to expand her knowledge, develop her skills and lead her team. It’s how she met Kevin Kuntz, Gap Inc.’s Global Head of Logistics, Fulfillment and Contact Centers, and how she eventually found her way to becoming part of the Gap Inc. team.
Diane McKean, leader of operations at Groveport, OH, shares these same sentiments. In her interview, she shared: “I love the excitement of the environment of logistics. From the inbound-outbound piece, to the metrics and operations, it’s never a dull moment. And it’s even more exciting and motivating to reach goals as a team.“
A critical moment for Diane as a team leader was spring of 2020, when she helped lead the Groveport, OH team through a 400,000 sq. ft. building expansion in the middle of a pandemic. And when e-commerce growth skyrocketed in Q2 2020, Diane also had to help make this expansion happen ahead of schedule. With travel restrictions at their highest and many key Gap Inc. personnel unable to come on site, the team successfully managed testing everything from IT systems and new robotic sorters, to bringing capabilities online that doubled processing power, going from a previous 500,000 to now 1M units per day.
Other campuses are now following this blueprint as well, as Gap Inc. also expanded engineering and processing capabilities at its Gallatin and Phoenix fulfillment centers less than 3 months ago. Learn more here.
Try fast, learn fast and think big isn’t the only theme that keeps these women in leadership thriving at Gap Inc. Sherry Fisher, facility operations leader at Gallatin, TN, takes this a step further. When asked about her role and how she’s grown in her career, she quickly acclaimed the push to innovate and be herself as the major driver.
After spending several years in retail at Gap Inc. and looking for a change, an environment in logistics where Sherry could create with audacity was exactly what she needed. She credits Dave McAndrew, head of operations at Gallatin, for bringing her on board and recognizing how her retail experience could benefit her at a fulfillment center.
“I absolutely love just creating a new path and trying new things, and this culture allows me to do that. When I came to Gallatin as an Operations Manager [later promoted to the Facility Director], Kevin [Releford, regional head of logistics] told me he didn’t want me to change. He said to continue what I believe and do what I think needs to happen on this campus.”
And “creating new paths” is exactly what Sherry did. One example of how her leadership is impacting the business is her recent push to change the packaging cartons for certain products. Her proposal was an instant success—saving the company money, cutting down on inefficient labor efforts, and increasing service levels to process.
Sherry enjoys the continued evolution in technology and ways of working that she sees at Gallatin, and she believes this evolution is largely due to Gap Inc. leaders, including Sonia Syngal.
“I admire [Kevin Kuntz] and his ideas. He’s paved the way for us to try a lot of different things, and it pays off. This whole company embraces change…Sonia came to visit once, and I had a chance to have a one-on-one with her. She had so many ideas and her way of thinking made me feel like my ideas were embraced too.”
Not only is Gap Inc. cultivating a positive culture on behalf of its employees, it’s also committed to positively impacting the communities it serves. Gap Inc.’s commitment to do the right thing is one of things Tracy Dalton, leader of operations at Groveport, OH, enjoys most about her job.
“I’ve just always appreciated Gap’s [Inc.] views on cultural events and how they engage with the community. Their priorities as a company are what keeps me here.” When asked about her favorite ways to get involved with the company’s community outreach programs, she mentioned one in particular. “With the Gap MEE program [Getting Ahead Professionally: Mentoring for Excellence in Employment], we work with students to get them ready to join the workforce industry. We do things like mock interviews and look at their resumes to help them prepare.” Beginning in summer 2022, Tracy will take on a new role at Gap Inc.’s new, state-of-the-art fulfillment center opening in Longview, TX next year.
We continue to be inspired by our many women in leadership who are critical change-makers in driving our business forward, and we thank them for their commitment to living out Gap Inc.’s Words to Live By each and every day.
Gap Inc.’s Customer Experience Center are currently hiring a number of roles at all locations. For more information, visit here.