Every February, we honor Black History Month, a time for reflection, rejuvenation and the celebration of the enduring influence of Black people, not only throughout American and Canadian History, but also World History. At AEO, we celebrate Black History Month in a way that reflects the rich diversity of the experiences, culture and contributions of Black people. This month, we will be spotlighting a few AEO associates so they can share why Black History Month is important to them.
With the AE and Aerie brands continuing to see groundbreaking success through digital channels, it’s no surprise that our distribution center teams have continued to grow. Meet Verdell, HR Business Partner in the AEO Ottawa Distribution Center who recently joined the DC team to support with talent acquisition efforts. At the time he was contacted by a member of the AEO recruiting team, Verdell wasn’t actively seeking a new role. But once he met the Ottawa team, he knew he wanted to call AEO home.
You’re new to AEO! What influenced you to join the team?
I was previously working for another retailer and I started to realize how unhappy I was with work/life balance. I have three kids and spending time with them is so important. During the recruiting process as I started to meet the AEO team, I realized maybe it was time for me to make a change so I could prioritize my family again. My first few weeks have been amazing and I really have found that balance I didn’t have before.
Who is Verdell? Share with us some background!
I am 1 of 4 Verdells in my family and I am a former veteran. I enlisted in the Marine Corp at the age of 17 and spent 17 years in the military, traveling the world on combat tours. After my time in the military, I moved into retail. I started as a paint mixer at a home improvement store and within 30 days, I was a department manager. Within 60 days, I was an assistant store manager and eventually managed my own store!
What passions do you hope to bring to your new team?
I am extremely passionate about inclusion and diversity. It is a focus that has been missing for so long and I am thrilled to bring that culture and diversity to the team. At my previous retailer, I was the first Black HRBP—I’m ready to change that in the retail world!
Why are proud to be a Black American?
Why shouldn’t I be? I can’t change who I am – this is how God made me. Black Americans and Canadians before me have persisted through so much in life. I know I make my ancestors proud and that inspires me.
How do you celebrate Black History Month?
I love to recognize and celebrate the achievements of other Black people. I get excited to support my kids with projects at school during Black History Month because every year, there is someone new to learn about!
Who is a Black figure who inspires you/has inspired you through life?
My mom. I was raised in a single parent household and she provided me with guidance and unconditional, motherly love no matter what. She is everything to me and truly my hero!
What do you want people to think about this month?
I want people to know that we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about inclusion and diversity. So many things have happened over the last few years and we need to talk about it, even if it’s uncomfortable. That’s how we make change.