AEO Celebrates AAPI Heritage Month: Vijay C., Senior Vice President – International

May is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. At AEO, we are taking this time to reflect on the significance of the AAPI community as we seek to amplify their voices, stories and contributions.

How long have you been at AEO? What’s your current role and can you tell us a little bit about what you do?

I joined AEO in August 2019 so it will be almost 5 years in a few months – time flies!

My current role is SVP – International at AEO. My core responsibility is to build out the AE and Aerie brands in international markets as optimistic and inclusive brands that stand the test of time and in doing so – win the hearts, minds and wallet share of our international consumer.

The opportunity ahead of us is so exciting, and I believe we have the people, the passion, the product and the brands to fuel the expansion of our global footprint.

What is a project in your work that you are most excited about right now?

There are lots of interesting initiatives going on in the International business at the moment that keep me charged and excited. 

We are expanding our country footprint via the license route and in the midst of some exciting business development initiatives. Deepening our partnerships in Latin America, accelerating Mexico growth, building our muscles on the CRM and Loyalty journey, margin optimization initiatives and rapidly growing our Aerie footprint are some of the key ones. 

Tell us about your personal background. Where did you grow up?

My nationality is Indian. I’m married to my wife, Meenakshi, and we have two lovely kids. Our daughter is preparing to write her exams for admission to dental college and our son is in high school.

I hail from a military background and did my schooling and college in India. I graduated in mathematics and then switched to fashion, so I also hold a degree in fashion apart from an MBA. Fun fact: given the transferable nature of my father’s job – I changed 10 schools in 15 years growing up and lived across 10 different cities in India! Sports has been an abiding passion and I played badminton, basketball and volleyball for school and college in India.

As a family – we always wanted to travel and wanted our kids to be global citizens so we have lived across India, Thailand, Hong Kong and New York!

How has your identity shaped your experiences, both in and out of the workplace?

I’m a proud Indian – it’s a wonderful yet tough and competitive country. The country, plus the family military background, has ingrained in me the values of hard work, discipline, focus on education and resilience. A passion for sports taught me to focus on winning, respect for teamwork, losing with grace and to keep upping my game until we win. Living in various countries taught me the beauty of different cultures and gave me the opportunity to make wonderful friendships.

I’ve always worked with multicultural teams across nationalities and genders, and I truly believe in the strength of diversity in building successful teams and businesses. 

I’ve been really lucky – the people I have worked with have always made me better and kept me honest and humble. I owe everything to my teams and some incredible leaders!

Our family has been privileged to live and study across the world, and I want my kids to grow up to be world citizens and good human beings who are not just successful in their fields but also humble, kind, helpful and doing their part to make the world a better place.

While I’m proud of my heritage – I genuinely believe that humanity trumps everything else and that’s truly my first religion. We celebrate and acknowledge all religions and festivals in my family – Diwali and Holi are the big Indian festivals but also Christmas and Halloween, CNY and Songkran.

Do you have any favorite cultural traditions? How do you celebrate your heritage at work?

Diwali is my favorite festival by far. It’s celebrated in an incredible manner in India, but it’s been so long since I’ve made it back to India on those dates. As such, I was thrilled to celebrate it with colleagues at AEO – see below!