The right training opportunities can make all the difference when you’re starting out in a new role.
Just ask Sonya Gleeson, a Queen’s commerce grad who joined the team at TJX in 2013 as an Allocation Analyst.
As part of her training, Sonya went through TJX’s Planning and Allocation School of Excellence (PASE), a program designed to ensure TJX’s team member can transition seamlessly into their new career roles.
Just 10 months later, she was promoted to a Senior Allocation Analyst role – compelling evidence that PASE equips you for career success.
“PASE is the best of both worlds,” she says. “It gives you the skills you need to succeed and provides the support and mentorship during your development and training.”
Connecting with TJX
Sonya made her career connection with TJX as a member of the planning committee of a Queen’s business forum focused on the fashion industry. TJX was a sponsor of the conference, and sent a Buyer and a Buying Coach to the event as delegates.
“The team from TJX talked about the different roles at the company and the customer experience at TJX,” explains Sonya, “and I got the chance to discuss the Allocation Analyst role with them.”
Connecting with a company representative is a great way to learn about career opportunities first-hand, and Sonya’s experience was no exception.
“I felt that the role was a great bridge between thinking in a merchandising mindset but also drawing in analytical skills,” she says. “My skills were in the business-related aspects, like performing analysis and working with numbers, but I also wanted to a role that had a creative outlet to explore.”
“The Allocation Analyst role was a great way to bridge those two ideas and bring my concrete skillset together with a passion I’ve had all along.”
Getting started in the classroom
At first, Sonya wasn’t sure how a training course could last 6 weeks – but she quickly found out that PASE uses a comprehensive approach to ensure all participants are fully-equipped to take on their roles at TJX, starting with the basics.
“In PASE, you start at the very beginning, learning about the business model and what makes it unique, then move into more technical aspects in terms of using programs, generating reports and working with data,” Sonya explains.
In fact, the structure of the PASE program is designed to fully immerse participants in their role, even covering common daily and weekly tasks.
“We went step-by-step and looked at examples of tasks we’d complete at given times during the week, as well as specific questions we might encounter and how to manage them,” Sonya says.
For student transition from the classroom to the workplace, the structure of PASE was ideal, empowering participants to take responsibility for their learning experience, with the ultimate goal of taking on their career.
“The program and instructors are amazing and bring such a wealth of knowledge, but you also have to own your own development,” says Sonya.
“Be curious. PASE is an opportunity for you to learn and explore in a really comfortable environment.”
On-the-job training in PASE
To complement classroom learning, PASE includes workplace training opportunities, which Sonya found was a great way to test her new skills.
She was taking over a maternity leave position in Decorative Accessories, and was able to work directly with the team member she’d be replacing.
“They do a great job figuring out where you’re going in the business so you can get training in your specific department. Interacting with my future manager and coworkers was a great way to get to know the team and ask questions that were specific to my future role,” she explains.
The workplace experience built into PASE connects participants with the tasks they’ve already explored in training, while also enabling them to round out their understanding of their future role.
Back in the classroom, the on-the-job training in PASE comes full circle through reflection and collaboration.
“You learn in the classroom, apply your knowledge in the workplace, then come back and discuss how you put your experience into practice,” says Sonya. “That way, you can identify opportunities to learn and improve your skills.”
“That experience really gets you in touch with the heartbeat of the business.”
Putting it all together
Now at work full-time, Sonya is thrilled with the confidence and competence she can bring to her role, thanks to PASE.
“PASE is unbelievably useful. I felt so comfortable when I entered the business that I could go forward and drive the business with the skills I needed – the program definitely equipped me with the confidence to make impactful changes,” she says.
In fact, she keeps her PASE materials on-hand – they’re still useful for reference.
Equipped with the skills to excel, Sonya has also found that TJX’s workplace culture places a top priority on learning and continual growth, with frequent opportunities to connect with managers and senior employees to discuss future plans.
“Since I joined TJX, I’ve felt so supported. I know that whatever I plan on doing, TJX will help me get there,” says Sonya, adding that she’s already making plans to explore Buyer opportunities.
“I feel very comfortable sharing with my supervisors. Doors are always open and everyone is here to talk to you and help you succeed in your development.”
Few job opportunities equip new hires to start planning their career plan and achieve a promotion in less than a year. Sonya attributes that success to her own drive and determination – and to excellent training as well.
“When I started working I felt like I was entirely ready to start my role, as if I had come in after months of training,” says Sonya.
“PASE is the most amazing program.”