Three and a half years ago, I made a career change and started my journey with The Container Store in a part-time position. I instantly fell in love with this amazing company right after my group interview and when it was time to choose between a part-time job and a freelance job back into my old career, my gut told me to stick with retail, even though I had very little experience in the industry.
I have to say that it was the best decision I have ever made for my career.
With all the tenured professionals in our company, my short three-and-a-half year career is still in its infancy. And just like a child, I started to observe, learn and practice my skills from day one. I was not thinking about how to be a leader yet – all I knew was to keep an open mind and listen to all the great coaching from people who are wise and exceptional at what they do. Just as I was settling into my role, another non-planned event happened -- I was promoted after five months to a full-time position as the Sales Trainer for my store.
I grew immensely in that position, but among all the growth opportunities that were available to me, my favorite and most unique experience was to be part our Leadership Development Program. The program also helped prepare me for another new role with the company as Training Manager, which I love! The Leadership Development Program is a year-long program, with different lessons and hands-on exercises each month. What I love most about the program is the relevancy of the lessons. All the notes I wrote down quickly became my personal “go-to” guide for all of the things I do daily – building trust and connection, coaching, communication and writing skills, increasing productivity, and personal growth and development, just to name a few.
As I progressed through the Leadership Development Program, I challenged myself to use every opportunity to hone my leadership skills and stay focused on the big picture while managing the small details that matter. In addition to the class materials, I also received “real life” leadership lessons from all the great leaders in our company. They lead by example through their communication, actions and overall compassion and determination to do the right thing for their people and this company.
To share one of my favorite leadership quotes – “Leadership is not a rank or a position, it is a choice - a choice to look after the person to the left of us and the person to the right of us.” As Training Manager, this quote plays constantly in my head and serves as a reminder and a promise to myself that I will not undermine the important choice to lead as it impacts everyone and everything around me.
Even though the Leadership Development Program concluded in October, the practice of leadership never stops. I am so grateful for this wonderful, unique experience as I continue my new long-term career with The Container Store. I don’t know where the future will take me, but I sure am looking forward to it!