Moving On Up
Allison Tillman ('11) began her career at Old Navy in their Accelerated Management Program. Now, she is a Senior Planner for Gap Inc. She is responsible for getting the right product, to the right store, at the right time, at the right price while taking into account the effects of the pandemic. Tillman developed creative inventory strategies to manage transportation delays, customer shopping habits shifting to online, and an increase demand in comfort clothing and leisure ware.
Q&A with Allison
Why did you decide to attend Cal State East Bay?
When I completed my undergraduate degree in Business Administration in 2009, the country was coming out of a recession and employment opportunities for recent graduates were scarce. I decided that obtaining a master’s degree would be a great way to gain a competitive advantage against other job seekers. I decided to attend Cal State East Bay because they offered an affordable 1-year intensive MBA program that was AACSB accredited with classes held in my hometown of Oakland, CA. I was intrigued by the personalized attention I would receive in a cohort of 35 students and the school’s connections to top employers in the Bay Area. It also didn’t hurt that my father had received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Nursing from Cal State East Bay and I was able to personally see and reap the benefits of a CSUEB education.
How has your education at East Bay helped you with your endeavors?
The education that I received at Cal State East Bay has been instrumental in progressing my career. My MBA program taught me how to view the business world from a global perspective. This was very useful when I was tasked with managing the inventory and sales of a global business that had operations in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan. My marketing classes helped me analyze product pricing, promotion, and placement while working in the grocery and retail industries. In addition, my former classmates and professors continue to be a great support system as I move through my career.
Tell us about your career journey and your job. What do you attribute to your success and what steps did you take to move up the career ladder?
With the help of the Career Center at Cal State East Bay, I was able to land a job at Old Navy in their Accelerated Management Program. In this role, I worked as a Service and Training Manager, getting hands on experience driving sales and managing a retail location. I then received an opportunity to work at Safeway Headquarters as a Promotions Specialist and eventually as a Category Analyst in their Corporate Meat department. In these roles, I analyzed consumer trends, market demographics, & industry standards to develop marketing plans. I later returned to Gap Inc. where I entered the inventory management field as an Analyst. I worked in the areas of global & market inventory planning, store planning, real estate planning, and ultimately allocation strategy. My current role as a Senior Planner encompasses getting the right product, to the right store, at the right time, at the right price.
The success I have experience in my career can be attributed to my desire to always learn and improve. I make a point of setting goals, staying organized, making connections, taking on new tasks, and “staying hungry”.
Has your job changed since the pandemic?Since the pandemic, I have been working 100% remotely. I’ve had to deal with the challenges of managing virtual meetings, faulty internet connections, and converting my home space into a work space. From a business perspective, I’ve had to develop creative inventory strategies to manage transportation delays, customer shopping habits shifting to online, and an increase demand in comfort clothing and leisure ware.
What is your fondest memory of CSUEB?
My fondest memory at CSUEB was representing the university at the 2011 International Collegiate Business Strategy Competition (ICBSC). My team competed against 24 other college MBA teams from all over the world. The competition provided hands-on experience in policy formulation, budgeting, planning, and scheduling in the corporate world. We ran a simulated corporation and assumed responsibility for strategic decisions in marketing, finance, human resources, and operations. I learned so much and was very excited when our team won first runner up!
If you can share one piece of advice with Pioneer students, what would that be?
My advice is to stay curious. It is always important to ask questions, read industry related literature, and develop interest in your colleagues. This, in combination with a growth mindset, is a valuable tool that can take students anywhere they want to go in life.
What's next for Allison?
My goal for the upcoming year is to focus on my health, my professional development, and making positive changes in my community. I plan to stay active in my community through my involvement in Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. I will also continue to make efforts to increase the representation of marginalized communities in the cooperate workforce.