AEO Celebrates Latest Graduates of The Advanced Leadership Institute Emerging Leaders Program

AEO is proud to congratulate the graduates of The Advanced Leadership Institute (TALI) Emerging Leaders Program and is celebrating Amstrid, Deja and Rashana – our associates who were part of the cohort. The Emerging Leaders Program prepares rising Black leaders for professional success and meaningful advancement in both corporate and community roles and is presented by TALI in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, and in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh, Robert Morris University and Duquesne University.

Amstrid, Deja and Rashana share their motivation for enrolling in the program and how they envision applying their learnings for what’s NEXT in their career journeys at AEO.

Tell us about your current role at AEO and overall career aspirations at the company!

Amstrid: I am a Quality Analyst on the Customer Engagement team. My role consists of reviewing contacts between corporate agents and customers to ensure we are providing high-level & efficient service. My overall career aspiration is to continue my development in order to ascend to leadership roles with the knowledge that I will be able to successfully lead a team, while espousing the AEO values and IDEA principles. 

Deja: I am currently a Senior Inventory Planner supporting the Men’s Pants team and the Canada market channel for inventory management. Overall career aspirations are to continue to pour into my development and advance my leadership skills to be able to successfully and efficiently guide a team.

Rashana: I am currently working as a Merchandise Order Specialist, providing support for the Buying, Inventory Planning and Production teams on Purchase Order (PO) development and maintenance throughout the entire PO process. My overall career aspiration is to continue to develop professionally with the intent of growing into a leadership role.  

What made you decide to enroll in the Emerging Leaders Program?

Amstrid: I have always been very passionate about learning and am a huge believer in every aspect of diversity, inclusion and intersectionality. When I first heard about TALI, I realized this program perfectly aligns with my personal and professional values, so it was a no-brainer to apply this past year. I also heard a lot about the amazing experience my coworker, and dear friend, Miguelina Javier had when she completed the program last year, which was incredibly encouraging. Completing this program has truly been one of the biggest highlights of not only my professional, but also my personal life. 

Deja: Being early in my career, as well as not being from the Pittsburgh area, I knew it was important to build my skills while tapping into a community outside of AEO. It is especially important for me to connect with those that come from a similar background as myself, so Diversity & Inclusion is near and dear to my heart. When I learned about TALI and the benefits for Black leaders, as well as hearing from other associates that participated in the program and all of the amazing insight they gained, it was a no brainer for me to apply.

Rashana: At the time I applied for the program, I had only worked at AEO for three months and didn’t know anything about the program or anyone who had previously participated. As I continued my research, the program aligned with my personal and professional beliefs of Diversity & Inclusion and leadership. I believed the structure of the program and the knowledge I would gain from a program specifically geared toward Black professionals would help me to grow personally and professionally in my career. 

What is the most meaningful learning from your time in TALI’s Emerging Leaders Program? 

Amstrid: This was a difficult question, because it’s so hard to pick just one thing as being the most meaningful. My favorite discussion was on emotional intelligence, as I believe that has to be the strongest foundation to begin building leadership skills and values. In order to understand and lead others, you need to first be aware of your own thoughts & beliefs and how to apply, or adapt, them in effective and successful ways. Overall, I’m honored to have had the opportunity to learn directly from distinguished professors from Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University, along with industry leaders in the region who were so willing to share their expertise. 

Deja: This program was life-changing and mindset shifting. During the seven-month sessions, we touched on managerial effectiveness, executive presence, organizational culture, navigating challenges in the workforce, innovation, mentorship and feedback– and everything was important. But the most meaningful learning I took away was crafting and redefining my vision and purpose, counteracting imposter syndrome, and understanding my value. I left this program with a greater confidence level and feeling very empowered to own my career. 

Rashana: This program was truly a gem! One word comes to mind and that is transformative. This program transformed my mind and my view on leadership. We touched on many different subjects pertaining to the development and progression of becoming a great leader. What was most meaningful was being in a cohort for seven months with other professionals of similar backgrounds from top companies throughout the city– while being taught by some of the brightest and most knowledgeable professors from Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University. During our sessions we were challenged to explore new perspectives and to become more innovative in our current roles.

Now that you’ve graduated from the program, what is NEXT for you at AEO and how do you believe you’ll apply your learnings? 

Amstrid: Right now, I am taking some time to absorb the completion of the program as I think about what comes next. I’m in the middle of completing the AEO Emerging Leaders program, which has also been an insightful learning opportunity. One of the biggest takeaways from TALI is the value of mentorship and community. I have not only gained invaluable knowledge, but also a support system of kind, intelligent and successful individuals from my cohort. Mentorship is something I plan to implement as much as possible because I have been so fortunate to have full support from my leaders, so my hope is to be that support for someone else. 

Deja: I have already started applying my learnings at AEO. The nice thing about TALI was that every session was very easy to generate action steps. I would talk to my leaders about what I learned and how it directly connects to my role or position. For example, I was very excited about the mentorship and managerial sections and tying them to our internal development programs. Lastly, the soft skills that we learned were invaluable and have now become part of my day-to-day at the company but also in my personal life. 

Rashana: I’ve been applying what I’ve learned from each session of TALI’s Emerging Leaders Program to my daily tasks at AEO. During one of our sessions, we learned about the various kinds of mentorship styles, including peer mentorship, and the importance that peer to peer mentoring has in making a positive impact on your self development. After that session I was encouraged to apply to AEO’s Close Knit Co-Mentorship program. I will continue to revisit what I learned in each session at TALI and apply it to my daily role at AEO. 

TALI’s mission is to cultivate Black executive leadership to strengthen companies, institutions, and communities. AEO has been a proud sponsor of TALI’s Leadership Programs since 2022.