From grocery bagger to MBA candidate
Erica Gordon-Roberts is not your average dreamer. As a mother and human resources coordinator at Kroger, her feet are firmly planted in reality. But she’s always dreamed of going back to school for an MBA, and now, thanks to a Dream BIG Scholarship from University of Phoenix and the NRF Foundation, Erica is turning that dream into a reality. “It eliminated whatever excuses or barriers I had before,” explains Erica, who sees the scholarship as a window not just to education, but to opportunity.
Starting as a courtesy clerk, Erica has worked her way through the ranks at Kroger for 20 years, which helped her buy her first car, put a down payment on her first house, and even pay for her wedding. Where her peers have had to switch companies in order to grow, Kroger has provided development opportunities at varying levels within the organization. “I’ve been fortunate to have multiple careers during my time with my company,” Erica says. “In the retail industry, you do it all.” Eventually, Erica aspires to be an officer of diversity and inclusion.
One of Erica’s favorite parts of her job is developing people for the roles they want, whether she’s working with a sales associate or a store manager. The MBA will help her elevate her skills even further.
Erica ties her personal interests into her job, fostering a community of opportunity. “I spend a lot of time volunteering with high schools.” Whether she’s facilitating job readiness workshops, conducting mock interviews or just sharing the realities of her own life experiences, Erica wants to make sure her students are prepared for whatever life places before them. She sees these students as recruiting potential for Kroger and other retailers and wants to help them learn how to match their skills to the right position and compare and contrast different benefits packages and learning opportunities. Her number one piece of advice for young job seekers? “Whether you are bagging groceries or flipping burgers, treat your retail position like it’s a multimillion-dollar job opportunity. You never know how success in that role could propel you to bigger and better opportunities.”