Beth Hitchins is a Marketing and Entrepreneurship double major graduating in May 2021. Recently, she was chosen to attend a Master Session with Terry Lundgren.
How did you hear about the Executive Seminar with Terry Lundgren?
A few weeks ago I received an email from my career coach, Javier Smith. It introduced a unique opportunity for eight Eller students to potentially be selected to attend a Master Session hosted by Terry Lundgren, the former CEO of Macy’s. As a Marketing & Entrepreneurship student who is passionate about the retail industry, I knew this was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. Immediately, I wrote up a brief statement expressing my interest in the program and emailed it over along with my resume in hopes of being chosen.
Why were you interested in participating?
Ever since I was a little girl, I have always had an interest in the fashion world. From dressing up friends and family in outfits I created using pieces from every closet and curtain in the house, to orchestrating fashion shows down the long stretch of hallway from the garage to the kitchen, it was the little things that made the biggest impact on the career path I have chosen to pursue. Learning directly from Terry Lundgren and having the opportunity to discuss the strategic decisions he made as the CEO and Chairman of the Board of Macy’s, Inc., is something that I really wanted to be a part of. With all of the countless opportunities the University of Arizona has presented me with, I knew that the Master Class would be another pivotal experience in my pursuit to attaining a career in retail.
What did you do during the seminar?
With the Master Class being a two-day event, we were able to listen in on a seminar as well as share two meals with Lundgren learning about his career path and also getting to know him personally. During the seminar, we had the opportunity to hear about the different approaches that Lundgren took when taking on various challenges as the CEO and Chairman. We learned about the past, present, and the now future predictions of what is expected to come from the retail industry, especially with the incline of online sales. He also shared many of his lessons that he learned along the way of becoming the CEO and Chairman, and the vital things to know when striving for success in the industry. One of my favorite lessons that I took away from the seminar was that your employees or the people working with you will always look up to you for hope during difficult times. This was inspiring to me because, for any type of leader, it’s important to always be that source of optimism especially since it all stems from you as a leader.
What did you find helpful and/or challenging?
Something that I found very helpful from the seminar was getting to learn the path that Lundgren took to get to where he is today. It was very interesting to hear his story and hear how he started out as a regular student, nervous to step foot into the real world just like anyone else. He made the Master Class very relatable and it was inspiring to learn about his journey and realize that it isn’t impossible. It just takes hard work, good character, and perseverance to achieve success. Something I found challenging from the class was when reading through the different struggles Macy’s had gone through during Lundgren’s time, it was difficult to think of ways that a CEO could take care of certain situations. Large corporations undergo many challenges and when put on the spot to think of ways that a CEO would handle it, it gave us perspective on how big of an impact the smallest of decisions can make.
Would you recommend this experience (or something like it) to other students?
Yes, I would definitely recommend this experience to other students. It’s not every day that you get to sit down and talk to a retired CEO of an industry-leading company. It is a rare opportunity that opened my eyes to the endless possibilities within the industry I am so passionate about. I am so thankful for the opportunity, and hope many other aspiring students can experience something similar.