North Texas Daily

Finding success in the workplace

Finding success in the workplace

November 16
19:31 2015

Julia Falcon | Staff Writer


Two speakers with experience in retail were at UNT Monday to give some advice and remind students that finding success in the workplace is an art.

As the second part of the Executive + Scholar Lecture Series, the executive vice president of merchandising at Pier 1 Imports, Cathy David, and JCPenney research professor and director of retail management at the institute of Santa Clara University, Kirthi Kalyanam, spoke to UNT merchandising, hospitality and tourism students.

The lecturers hoped that students could take away leadership principles and values to use in their futures in the workplace.

During the first half of the lecture, Kalyanam gave his insights about how struggling in the beginning of a career will end up helping any business grow and expand.

Inspired by the founder of Costco, Kalyanam quickly learned that retail is a difficult business.

“Through my research in retail, I have learned that retail is detail,” Kalyanam said, referring to a slide with inspirational quotes. “There are five main levelers: information, price, assortment, convenience and entertainment.”

From big retailers such as Wal-Mart to small marketplaces like Etsy, Kalyanam said retail technology keeps growing.

“There is more on-demand retail,” Kalyanam said. “Retail is a technology business. Once you win the customer, the profits will follow.”

A few of Kalyanams’ tips were to land and expand the business, compete on multiple levels and to create entry barriers.

During the second half of the lecture, David gave her advice.

“Receiving feedback from others is a gift,” David said. “Working hard does not mean being unhappy. Leaders are sentenced by their sentences.”

David opened up a page from her favorite book, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go,” by Dr. Seuss, and told the audience, “You are the guide who decides where to go.”

Encouraging the audience to define themselves positively, David said that what you do is not who you are.

“The things put on your headstone are your relationships — daughter, mother, brother, sister, cousin,” David said. “It’s not what you have done or who you are, but it is how you do it and how you interact with people.”

David made a point to not get too cool to feel like sitting in the “back row,” but to show you are excited about what you are doing.

“If you are not invested in what you are doing, why are you doing it?” David said. “Your life is full of rich possibilities.”

An audience member asked how the speakers kept afloat through all of their work and time spent focusing on how they made their careers a success with their positive attitudes.

David said that her attitude is a choice, and she writes her agenda on a calendar to prioritize what is important for her day. Kalyanam said he is fortunate with his opportunities, and when he wakes up every morning, he thinks of what he should be doing rather than what he could be doing.

“I wasn’t born in America,” Kalyanam said. “I have realized the exceptional values we have here. I am a part of a machine that creates exceptional things and that is a gift. I always focus on what is good.”

The next part of this lecture series will take place in February.

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