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June 19, 2012

I Started at the Bottom… Now I'm the Boss!

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Tina Schiel
Executive Vice President of Stores, Target

STARTED AS: Entry-level area manager

Schiel was a senior at Texas' Hardin-Simmons University when she was recruited by Target for its entry-level executive training program. One of her first duties: stocking shelves at the Target in Abilene, Texas. Today, the 45-year-old oversees Target's 1,800 stores nationwide.

TIP #1: BORED? ASK FOR MORE TO DO. "When I was starting out, they had us rotating a few jobs during the course of a year. I knew I was game for more, so I went to my district manager and said, 'Have you ever thought about more jobs, less time—that way we get more experience as we go?' He was open to the idea, so we made a deal: As long as I did really well at the job at hand, I could tell him when I was ready for something new. It's that kind of thinking that has opened the door to some amazing experiences for me, all within the same company."

TIP #2: WORK WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE DIFFERENT FROM YOU. "People tend to gravitate to those they really like or who are just like them. That's a mistake—you make better decisions when you surround yourself with people from different backgrounds and with different experiences. Back when I ran a district [usually 10 stores], we always seemed to perform better when I had a diverse team working for me. The advice I got was usually much more long-term and strategic, less personal. They didn't just agree with me, which never gets you where you really want to go."

TIP #3: ALWAYS SEEK OUT UNFAMILIAR TERRAIN. "My whole career had been spent overseeing the stores, but two years ago I took on business development for the brand. It's a much more formal, Monday-through-Friday kind of environment, so that was a culture shock for me. The best advice I can give in a situation like mine is to know what you don't know and seek out those who do. This new area has been completely re-energizing for me."

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