Alumni in Retailing

Several Gator grads, who worked closely with the Center for Retailing while attending the University of Florida, have thriving careers in the industry. They have generously allowed the Center for Retailing to provide their career and contact information. Students are encouraged to contact these successful graduates with any questions or concerns they may have.

William J. Alcorn Sr. Vice President, Controller & CPO, jcpenney

I worked at jcpenney while going to school as a way to make some extra money and wound up loving the pace and excitement of the environment. Majoring in accounting, I decided to try the Finance side of retailing versus going the traditional public accounting route. What a great decision. jcpenney gave me the chance to work with hundreds and hundreds of people, move around the country, travel to many places, work in many environments and have the time of my life.

Beth Angelo General Merchandise Manager/VP, Body Shop

The Miller Center for Retailing prepared me for my career in retailing. Although I had grown up in a hands-on retailing environment, my BS in business gave me a solid framework to understand the mechanics of business. My teachers at Florida shared a passion and commitment to the subject matter that was contagious.

Lisa Bowman Co-Founder, Sol Atlantic Biodiesel LLC

While at the University of Florida, I was fortunate enough to become involved with the Miller Center for Retailing. During that time I participated in two Retail Management Internships, one for Wal-Mart and the other for Sears, Roebuck & Co. Through these internships I gained knowledge of store operations, Human Resources, Customer Service, and Visual Merchandising skills, to name a few. During both internships I was treated as a member of management, and as such was able to apply firsthand the principles I had learned in my business classes.

Lizz DeMott Divisional Vice President, Capital Projects, Macy's Central

I graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Design degree from the College of Architecture (now the College of Design, Construction & Planning) with a Minor in Business Administration. After working in the industry for some time, I had a great opportunity to work for a business outsourcer specializing in facility management services for medium- to large-size companies. I gained great experience and exposure to a variety of customers spanning retail, health care, and restaurant sectors.

Giselle DiCristina Women's Swimwear and Activewear Buyer, Macy's Florida

I started my career at Macy's Florida over 5 years ago as an assistant buyer. Through the learning and development program at the company, I moved through different areas of responsibility from Dresses to Junior apparel, finally becoming a buyer. Currently, I buy women's swim for all of our Florida locations, as well as Puerto Rico. I also buy Nike, Adidas and Puma for 30 of our stores.

Katharyne Gabriel Business Leadership Program, The Home Depot

Spend time on the sales floor getting to know the business. I work at The Home Depot's corporate office, but no experience has helped me to better execute and perform on a daily basis than the 6 months I spent in a Home Depot store serving customers and supporting associates. The best way to identify where you can add value in a support role is to truly understand the success and struggles of day to day business.

Phil Johnson V.P. of Human Resources, Asbury Automotive Group

I graduated from UF in December 1970 with a BS in Industrial Engineering. I stayed another year and a half and received an MBA in 1972.

When I started my job search, I looked into a number of different industries; some would have used my technical education, others, like retailing, offered a more general management career path.

John Kerns Senior Group Leader, Target

After graduating in 1986, I entered the US Navy. I transitioned to the civilian sector, beginning my Target career in their Distribution Center in Tyler, TX. I've since moved to other DCs in Wilton, NY and most currently, in the Savannah, GA area. I've been involved in Transportation and Operations and am pretty well-versed on the Supply Chain side of Target's Business model. My current title is Senior Group Leader in the Midway, GA Distribution Center.

Gina Kidder, Seasonal Domestics Buyer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

I started my career at Wal-Mart as a corporate intern in Bentonville, AR. After graduating from UF with a degree in Business Administration I returned to Wal-Mart full-time as a buyer trainee working in the Housewares Department. From there, I worked in various departments as a buyer in Menswear, Home Furnishings, and currently as a Seasonal buyer in Domestics.

Keith T. Koenig President, City Furniture

City Furniture was founded in 1994 by brothers, Kevin and Keith Koenig, born from Waterbed City, the chain of waterbed stores Kevin started in 1971. City Furniture is now South Florida's leading furniture retailer with 21 showrooms including 6 Ashley Furniture HomeStores.

Liza Kollen Reg. Merchandising Rep, Brown Shoe Co.

I attribute much of my success to the personal involvement and the dedication of those who work in the Miller Center. I can honestly say that the Symposium was the turning point in me getting my current job with Brown Shoe Co. Being able to attend the Symposium during my internship with Beall's allowed recruiters to see me taking the extra steps to learn more about the retail industry.

Anthony Ladd Store Operations Labor Analyst, Dollar General

My initial plan after graduating UF was to attend law school. However, I could not refuse the opportunity Dollar General presented me. In my first year, I worked with employees and leaders up to the highest levels in the organization helping to implement operational changes as I traveled around the country. While traveling, I took on an extra assignment of managing the change implementation schedule of approximately 5,000 stores — an impact of over $17 million.

Jim Lewis President & CEO, Enhanced Retail Solutions LLC

After graduating from UF, I went to work for JC Penney as a Merchandise Manager in the Plantation, Florida store. After five years of learning the fundamentals of retailing and how a store operates, I moved to the JC Penney corporate headquarters in Dallas as Assistant Buyer in the Children's Apparel Division. I managed and bought key categories in Men's, Children's and Home Textiles. I was involved in several executive level projects and sat on varying key company initiative task forces.

Rachel Meadvin General Manager, Ashley Furniture

I was recruited by City Furniture through the Career Expo and their partnership with the Miller Center for Retailing. City Furniture's impressive growth and advancement opportunities were the selling point for me. Their performance based culture allowed me to move very rapidly though the hierarchy of management positions. I was promoted to my current position of General Manager after only 18 months with the company!

David F. Miller Former Vice Chairman, jcpenney

Retailing for me was a first choice from high school years on. We were raised in a rural environment and the world seemed filled with opportunities to add value to products. Early experiences included milking the cow and selling the milk, buying biddies and selling the fryers six weeks later, chickens would lay eggs that could be sold in grocery stores. There were grapefruit, fig, and tangerine trees that could be harvested and the product sold. Yes, there were lawns to be mowed and houses to be painted; but adding value to a product and selling it seemed a more exiting and productive course to pursue.

Brad Nesmith Corporate Counsel, The Home Depot

I joined The Home Depot in 2005 as a member of the Internal Audit Leadership Program. Upon graduating from the Leadership Program, I served as a Manager in Internal Audit and am currently a Senior Manager within the Enterprise Program Management group.

James R. Paine Corporate Counsel, The Home Depot

While at the University of Florida, I earned a Bachelor of Science, Master of Business Administration and Juris Doctor. Prior to joining The Home Depot, I was a member of the Outsourcing/Systems Integration practice group at Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP.

Jay Perez Retail Coordinator, Guy Harvey, Inc.

I sit where I am today because of the instilled education and the continued support of the Miller Center for Retailing at the University of Florida. My career path actually started in the summer of 2003 with an invaluable internship with Beall's Inc as an assistant buyer.

Laura Rutenis Senior V.P., Sales Promotion, Macy's Midwest

I graduated from the UF School of Journalism and Communication in 1986 with a degree in Advertising after two summer internships in the advertising department at Famous Barr department store, a division of The May Company based in St. Louis, MO. I was offered a position in the advertising department of store based in Washington DC and started my career there as an executive trainee.

Steve Schultheis Dir. of Planning & Execution, Jewelry & Access., Wal-Mart

I work at Wal-Mart's Merchandise division as the Director of Planning and Execution for Jewelry and Accessories. I began my retail career in 1987 through an internship with Wal-Mart. During this internship, I worked in a warehouse where I discovered a more efficient way to pack boxes. That year we saved Wal-Mart over one million dollars in labor and supplies. The company was impressed by and thankful for this discovery. Wal-Mart established a scholarship in my name that is awarded annually to an outstanding University of Florida Wal-Mart Intern.

Jeffrey Twait Director of Merchandising Finance, PetSmart

As Director of Merchandising Finance for PetSmart, I lead a team that provides the primary financial, analytical and information support for Merchandising. Our team acts as a business partner with Merchandising, helping the merchants and senior leadership team develop strategies, analyze opportunities, and maximize sales, gross margin dollars, and return on inventory investment.

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Phone: 352.392.2397
Fax: 352.392.2086

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