Friday, June 8, 2012

AE Employee Profiles: Paul E., Director of Marketing Strategies, Testing, & Research

New jean fits, top patterns and updated fabrics don't just end up in our stores - Paul E., Director of Marketing Strategies, Testing and Research, and his team work to find the coolest trends and clothes to stock our shelves. We interviewed Paul to learn more about him and his job at AE.

Paul E., Director of Marketing Strategies, Testing, and Research

How did you get your start at AE?
During and post-college I was working in a retail store near the AE Home Office while trying to find my ideal job. Fortunately, AE recruiters were near and brought me in for interviews. I began my career shortly after as an Assistant Buyer and eventually worked my way up becoming the Women’s Denim Buyer. My claim to fame was buying AE’s first pair of stretch denim and it was actually my first buy!  As I continued my career with the goal of diversifying myself to have a broader scope of the business, I moved into Merchandise Planning to understand the business more while rotating through Men’s, Women’s and Aerie then eventually landed where I am today which allows me to bring all my experiences together. 

What’s your favorite part of your job?
Driving the business! I love to identify little nuggets within the business that have the potential to explode, then strategize on implementation and ultimately measure the success.

What are some of the cool projects you have worked on?
One of the coolest projects I do is “in-home” focus groups. With the constant effort to stay in the pulse of the customer, we visit high school and college students at their residences (dorms, apartments, or homes) where they bring their close friends to participate in a group discussion. We “raid” their closets to gain insights on what they are purchasing and why. It’s amazing to hear the dialogue they have among each other and see their excitement when talking about clothes. It’s great to observe them in their own environment where they are relaxed, comfortable and willing to share shopping experiences. The most unexpected part when I first stared doing the in-home focus groups was seeing how excited the guys were when it comes to presenting what they wear!

What is the coolest place your job has taken you?
Sticking with the above, I have visited many great locations but would have to say the most memorable after a long six week road trip of doing “in homes” across multiple markets, the final group was conducted in a beachfront home with a priceless view. 

Where do you find your inspiration?
Everyday from everyone I am in touch with at all levels within the organization. You can learn from every person whether it’s an intern bringing a young fresh, new idea to the table or leadership communicating their vision. I love how accepting and encouraging it is to hear everyone’s ideas and to know it adds value that is received when an idea or opinion is given. It’s totally a collaborative team approach and it is highly motivating and competitive in a good way and ultimately a feeding frenzy of inspiration.

What is a typical day like for you?
You have your schedule for the day, anticipating, prepping as much as humanly possible and it can change or evolve very rapidly once the day begins. A typical day, to sum it up, is crazy passion and unexpected all at the same time. What’s fun about it is that there is no typical day and the days are never the same.

What is your favorite place in Pittsburgh?
My favorite places in Pittsburgh are wherever there is a good restaurant. They are spread throughout the city and have diverse offerings. Current faves: brunch must-have is Meat & Potatoes and I'm a sucker for good margaritas and tacos at Cantina.

What is your personal style?
My personal style can be summed up as scrambling to make a decision of what to wear in the twenty minutes prior to leaving for work at the beginning of the day.

If you weren’t a working at AE, what would you be doing?
I’d have my own store – doing the same thing! I love retail in general and have a passion for the business. I would incorporate all of the things I’ve learned throughout my career - a love of clothing.

Do you have any cool Summer plans?
Sun and fun in Turks and Caicos.