March is Women’s History Month – a time where we celebrate and acknowledge the vital contributions of women throughout history. In honor of this month, we are spotlighting a few AEO women to share their stories of professional growth, challenges and accomplishments.
Tech-guru, innovator, opportunity-seeker, wife, mother… those are just a few words to describe Ta Jané (or TaJ, as many of her AEO family call her!), Sr. Product Manager at AEO, Inc. TaJ attended Georgetown University, majoring in International Business and Marketing and following graduation was recruited to join AEO as an intern. Fast forward nearly 8 years, TaJ’s journey at AEO lead her into the complex world of tech where today she supports the digital product teams in delivering a best-in-class experience for American Eagle and Aerie customers!
What does a Product Manager do?
I manage the customer experience on the American Eagle and Aerie website – that is the time a person arrives to the site to the time when product is added to their bag. My team ensures our customer is having the best experience possible shopping our site – from the buttons they are pushing to the filters they use to find product. Our goal is to make the online shopping experience as intuitive and engaging as possible for our customer!
How did you land in this role?
I actually started as an AEO intern out of college and transitioned to the AEO Teammate Program! I initially was part of the Merchandising team, but always had a passion for the digital side of the business. I eventually joined the site merchandising team. I worked on the U.S. site for a time and also helped stand up the UK/EU site as well. Eventually, I joined the Product team!
Wow! You have grown in your role so quickly, what is the secret to your success?
I truly believe if you have a willingness to learn, you can pretty much learn anything here at AEO! I am constantly learning on the job and reaching for what I call “island projects”—or side hustles outside of my normal job description. I love to learn about new things, and I think that curiosity has been so valuable for me.
You’re on the steering committee of the AEO REAL Parents Network. How many kiddos do you have and how has parenthood impacted your work life?
I currently have an 8-year-old stepson, a 2-year-old son and a baby on the way! One of the best things parenting has taught me is to not take everything so seriously. A lot of times we identify ourselves by our work. We get so emotionally invested in our careers and struggle to break away. Having a child has taught me to separate my identity and my work. I truly see the bigger picture and I realize I can do things I didn’t think I could do before. I make it a priority to log off at 5 every day to spend time with my kids because that is what’s important.
What woman/women have inspired you in life?
I have been inspired by so many women. My mother and grandmother – they are so incredibly focused and strong, and they’ve always had this “can-do” attitude. They’ve taught me there is no roadblock that is insurmountable. They’ve taught me that rejection is not the end, it’s just a redirection to “what’s next?”
I also have so much admiration for Susan Eshleman, AEO VP of Product Management. She is always so supportive, she leads with understanding and she is always present for her team. She has been such a great role model for me personally and professionally.
As a woman, how have you been challenged in your professional life?
I am a woman in the tech industry—an industry that has largely been male dominated. There have certainly been times where I have felt the pressure to show that I deserve to be here as much as anyone else. That’s why it’s so important to continue to drive females into STEM roles!
What advice do you have for young women starting their careers?
My biggest piece of advice is “just do it!” Do you want to apply for a role, but maybe you’re not totally qualified? Just do it! You want to enter a field you have no experience in? Do it! Don’t disqualify yourself. There are recruiters for a reason, let them tell you no. Get your resume on the desk!
Why do you love AEO?
The people, of course! I love how creative and insightful people are.
I also love the opportunity. Every opportunity I’ve gone after hasn’t always come to me, but I am always empowered to seek them out. The well has never come up dry for me at AEO. If there was something I was passionate about, my leaders always have my back and I love that about this company!