This article is part of a series titled “Lessons Learned” where we spotlight our former SSE Managers.
In this article, we interview 2019-2021 Student Store Design and Marketing Manager Mei-Lan, along with 2007-2009 Retail Division Manager Bennett, to gain insight on their management, and to see what they’ve been working on since their careers at SSE.
How has your student management experience informed your current management style?
Mei-Lan: Working at SSE was a wonderful introduction to management. I joined the summer after my sophomore year, not having much job experience, and I was able to design products that ended up in store in a couple of months. It was a scope of impact I hadn’t previously had in other jobs, and I was amazed that I’d been able to affect people’s lives so soon after being hired. If you had asked me when I was hired “are you ready to come up with a fall line for the store,” I would have been hesitant to say yes, but the management’s trust in me and my expertise empowered me to live up to that expectation.
Bennett: My experience running The Stanford Store gave me more entrepreneurial and managerial exposure than I could have ever imagined so early in my career. I learned about all the tangible aspects of running a business from marketing to operations to accounting, but also experienced tremendous growth in the less tangible -- management, EQ, and how to lead a team. Over a decade later, I lean often on those learnings from early in my career.
Current projects,work, or studies:
Mei-Lan: I’m a Product Designer at The Marriage Pact.
Bennett: Co-founder and VP of Operations of MINE (www.allmine.com). My experience at The Stanford Store gave me a true passion for retail in general -- I am currently the co-founder of a furniture retailer and interior design company.
What would you say to a current student who is hesitant to become a managing director?
Mei-Lan: The only question you should be asking yourself is “will I learn from this experience?” That’s what SSE is about. If you care, and you’re willing to learn, you’ll do a great job.
Bennett: Few roles will provide the potential for growth than running "your own" business—
SSE offers a tremendous learning ground without the risk of being at it on your own, and rather with the support of the larger organization and University.