How a love of customers turned into a life-changing opportunity
Erika Harrel started her retail career pushing carts at Stater Bros. in California and discovered that she loved interacting with customers. Seven years later, she’s still at Stater Bros., working as a personnel clerk in the Corporate Office and gearing up to start her MBA through a Dream BIG scholarship from the University of Phoenix and the NRF Foundation.
When Erika started working at the regional grocery chain, it was just a part-time job to help her get through school. But she quickly realized what a great fit retail was for her. “I’ve always loved working with people,” Erika says. “Customer service and reaching out to customers comes easy to me. I’m outgoing and I love to help.”
Once Erika was promoted to the corporate office, the opportunities to advance her career multiplied and she continues to use her people skills and upbeat personality in the HR department. Although she doesn’t interact with customers on a daily basis anymore, Erika still feels connected to the everyday Americans that Stater Bros. serves. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re working in a store or in the corporate office – the ultimate goal is to play a part in customer satisfaction,” says Erika.
Working in the corporate office has opened Erika's eyes to everything that goes on behind the scenes in retail. “When you work in the store itself, you have a certain view of the business. But when I moved into my current job, I began to see more of what it takes to run the whole business, like hiring, workers’ comp and payroll.”
An MBA will help Erika continue to broaden her knowledge, especially in the field of marketing, which she sees as one of the cornerstones of the business. Everything from a store’s key customer demographics, getting the right products on the shelves, fulfilling store experiences, and even hiring comes into play in marketing, which combines Erika’s experience in HR and her enthusiasm for customers.
“I’m really excited,” Erika says, “I feel like this is going to open so many doors. It’s such a great feeling to have so many opportunities ahead. The sky’s the limit!”