6 Grads, 6 Questions, 6 Lessons

Six new graduates proudly completed our Graduate Rotational Program. For the past 8 weeks, they worked in different areas of the business, learning from a variety of mentors while enjoying an unforgettable experience. We could write all about their experiences, but we believe it’s best that you hear it directly from them.

Marie-Soleil Chevalier 

Your style icon: Blake Lively

A song you have in your head these days: “Toutes les femmes savent danser” by Loud

Before you began your experience with us, what did you hope to gain from the Graduate Rotational Program? What were your expectations?

I have to say that I was quite pleased that a program like this exists. Because I had never worked full time in the past, I was scared that I’d be a little lost at first. I mostly expected to feel supported and to gain a better understanding of the company, my role and its impact. It’s inspiring to know what people do on a daily basis and how they achieve success.  

Lesson learned?

The impact that each department has on another. Everyone works together to ensure Groupe Dynamite’s success.  


sarah duchaine

The word you use most often: Miam!

A place in Montreal where we’d run into you: At the Jean-Talon market

How was your integration at Groupe Dynamite?

I was pleasantly surprised by the welcome I received. During the first week, we’re introduced to the company. We have a meeting with our mentor, who trains and supports us throughout the program. The integration was easy for me because I had several resource people that I could turn to if I had any questions or for assistance in my new role. 

Lesson learned?

My mentor taught me that it was normal to make mistakes and to ask for help. It’s important that you are not left with unanswered questions; you have to inform yourself.   


Katrina Dessureault

One place in Montreal where we would run into you: Boxing at 30 Minute Hit

Dream destination: South Africa

 
During the rotation, which position surprised you the most?

I would have to say Sourcing. Going into the Grad Program, I knew what most departments’ roles were; however, Sourcing surprised me with how many relationships they have to create and nurture with suppliers. Even seeing the amount of work that the Sourcing Specialist in my BU does, it is easy to tell how important that position is for the business.

Lesson learned?

Ask questions! Something so simple, and yet most people are too shy or feel like they are overstepping. People love to talk about their experiences, so take advantage of that willingness to learn something new and ask the questions that you want/need to ask.


Mélia buonocore

Book that’s currently on your night stand:Central Park” by Guillaume Musso

Your guilty pleasure: Sleeping in

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

I’m proud of the final project that we presented to the Executive team. We were able to produce a high-quality project in one month, I believe. At first, we took off in a bunch of different directions and we weren’t sure where to align ourselves. We used each of our strengths and inspired ourselves from what we were learning in the different departments in order to complete the assignment that was given to us.

Lesson learned?

Always be prepared for last-minute schedule changes and manage your time properly as new tasks are always being added. What’s more, the company is under constant change and, as such, you need to know how to adapt quickly and have an open mind.


lisa galfré

Person who inspires you: Michelle Obama

Your guilty pleasure: Mille-feuille pastry

 How would you describe the mentors’ role? How have they influenced your experience at Groupe Dynamite?

The mentors are there to assist and support us throughout the program and especially during really busy times. They play a key role in our integration and training.

 Lesson learned?

Everything is a matter of organization, motivation, and passion! If we love what we do, we’ll be motivated and better organized!


ashley galloway

Favourite clothing item: A beige knit cardigan I bought from Garage in 2008 – it’s still my favourite 10 years later

Favourite trend right now: Wide-leg pants

What would you say to someone who is interested in the Graduate Rotational Program but won’t dare apply for it?

DO IT! There are certain things in life that a textbook can’t teach you—you get such valuable first-hand experience and get to meet so many great people.

Lesson learned?

Speak your mind—even if nobody agrees with you, it’s important that you give your opinion and share ideas.

Click here to learn more about our Graduate Rotational Program.

 

THE PERFECT FIT

Supporting emerging talent is a priority for Groupe Dynamite! We’re always on the hunt for new, promising talent, and we get involved in many events in the fashion industry, especially ones that involve students. We are proud to sponsor and partner up with:

  • ÉMERGENCE for graduates from L’École supérieure de mode de Montréal
  • ENTREPRISE event at LaSalle College
  • The Fashion Business Uncovered from McGill University

We also host networking cocktails twice a year in our beautiful Atrium. We feel that it’s important for future graduates to meet with our ambassadors and get a vibe for our work playground!

All of these initiatives led to the hiring of 22 summer interns and 10 graduates for our Graduate Rotational Program this year.

Are you a perfect fit? Click here to learn about all of our opportunities.

A day in the life of a new designer

Meet Millie Yates. She was part of our 2017 summer internship cohort and was offered a Technical Designer role once the program ended. We were curious to know what her days usually look like so we asked her!

Name: I’m Millie Yates 🙂 

Position: I’m a Technical Designer for the Dynamite banner and I work in the knits department. This is where we design all top styles with a stretch fabric—we’re the ones responsible for the tees, tanks, bodysuits and sweatshirts you see in stores. I began at Groupe Dynamite as a design intern this summer and I’m excited to be staying on with my team.

Technical Designer role in a nutshell: Life as a Technical Designer consists of a number of responsibilities, including updating line sheets, making approvals, conducting trend research, and creating technical packages. It’s a fun, fast-paced job that is both challenging and fulfilling.

Here’s a quick look into my day-to-day!

6:50 A.M.:      I wake up most days around 6:50. From there, I get dressed, eat breakfast, and hop on the metro. I have a long commute to work so I always pack a book in my bag (right now I’m reading Zadie Smith’s Swing Time), or turn on a podcast (This American Life).

8:40 A.M.:   I arrive at the office with just enough time to pick up an iced latte at our Atrium bistro and go straight to my desk. Once there, I organize my work, such as catching up on emails and putting away samples before things really get going. Oh! And if it’s before 9:00, you can catch me on Vogue.com!

 9:00 A.M.:  At the beginning of the day, I usually touch base with my junior and senior Designers to discuss the day ahead. We check our schedules and prioritize our to-do list to make sure we’re all on the same page. Then, we discuss fabric changes, styling changes, and upcoming style reviews.

10:00 A.M.:      I usually have my knit “hub” meeting with Merchants, Designers and colleagues from the Import team. Here, we pull out our line sheets (booklets that organize our styles by month) and go over weekly changes. Restyling, dropped styles, and changing units are discussed at this time. As a newbie to Groupe Dynamite, these meetings are very important, as they offer insight into the work of each of my team members.

11:00 A.M.:    Come 11:00, I begin my day-to-day tasks. During this time, I’m likely updating technical packages, a.k.a. tech packs. These are a tool used by Designers to convey necessary information about a style to our overseas suppliers. They contain information, like the fabric code and content, trim details (such as zippers, buttons, and rivets), and care tag labels. My “hub” is very busy and we can see up to 20 new styles a week.

12:00 P.M.:      Between 12:00 and 12:30, I usually take a quick break to eat. I try to bring a packed lunch to work every day, but on days where I’m not so organized, I’ll pick up something in our Atrium. I usually sit with friends indoors or (when the weather is nice) on the Atrium’s rooftop terrace. On my way back to my desk, I pick up a second coffee (for the afternoon rush) from one of our baristas and head back to work.

1:00 P.M.:    I head straight into approvals, one of my main responsibilities as a Technical Designer. The Import team passes me lab dips, bulk fabric approvals and trim approvals so that we can send comments to the supplier. A lab dip is a series of swatches a supplier will send for colour approval. We test out the swatches and pick the lab dip that best matches our colour palette.

3:00 P.M.:        During the mid- to late afternoon, I have a variety of different tasks, like updating sketches of our styles to reflect fit changes, updating our line sheets to add styles to our assortment, or preparing for an upcoming sketch or style review. I spend most of my day on drawing, editing and designing. My favourite part of the afternoon is getting new samples passed to us from our Import team—seeing a sketch become a physical garment never gets old!

5:00 P.M.:        I finish up my day between 5:00 and 5:30, then jump back on the metro and head to a restaurant to grab dinner with some friends or scout antique stores! After that, I get ready for the next day!

 

 

Once Upon A Grad

ABOUT LÉA

How did you end up at Groupe Dynamite?

After I graduated, I worked in a recruitment firm for a few months. From that experience, I learned that I loved working in recruitment, but that I wanted to do it in a corporate environment. I have also always wanted to work in the fashion industry. Plus, when I found out that Groupe Dynamite had a grad program, I knew I needed to be a part of it.

Can you briefly describe your academic background?

I completed a Bachelor’s of Commerce with a concentration in Human Resources at UQAM.

What was the highlight of your grad experience?

The highlight of my experience was making friends in the program, getting to meet a lot of people from the business in different departments, networking and being able to use these connections in my career at Groupe Dynamite.

What is your current role at Groupe Dynamite and what does it entail?

I am a Campus Recruiter. I take care of the recruitment for the Graduate Rotational Program and some of the Summer Internship Program. I also do campus events and host networking and recruiting events. On top of that, I also take care of integrating the new grads and managing the new cohorts.

What do you enjoy most about working on the graduate program?

The part I enjoy most is meeting new, young talent and helping them launch their career and develop throughout the year.

So far, what are you most proud of?

Seeing grads I have hired being happy in their roles and succeeding in their careers.

ADVICE FOR FUTURE GRADS

What advice would you give a young grad who would like to work at GD?

I would advise students to try and get some retail experience while they are still in school. Having this experience helps future grads understand the retail business from the ground up and we value that. More importantly, however, we like people that are passionate, self-starters and willing to always grow and evolve in the fashion industry.

As a young grad, how did you feel supported at Groupe Dynamite?
What opportunities does the company have to offer upcoming graduates?

I felt supported by my Managers and Directors and was happy to have been given that trust and guidance. When I started in my role, I was quickly given projects where my opinion mattered and where I felt like my voice was being heard!

In your opinion, what sets Groupe Dynamite apart from other companies?

What sets us apart is the power we give to the younger generation. Your ideas will be heard and valued and you have the power to make a difference and put your stamp on things.

 

Climbing the ladder with Catherine

Meet Catherine Brisebois. After only three years with Groupe Dynamite, she recently took on the role of Vice President, Strategy and Business Transformation. Catherine’s mandate is to create a plan that will enable the company to reach its objectives while transforming the way the business operates in support of its vision. She might be our youngest executive, but after sitting down with Catherine, we found out that her senior title is matched with a wealth of wisdom.

Your career won’t necessarily follow a straight line

Catherine’s first piece of advice is to keep an open mind when it comes to your career path: “Many people—especially recent graduates—are focused on reaching their ultimate destination (a.k.a. getting their dream job), but you shouldn’t forget to enjoy the journey of building the experience needed to get there.”

Even though Catherine knew an engineering career wasn’t for her, she completed her degree in Industrial Engineering because she realized the program’s analytical and problem-solving disciplines would be an asset.

Find your element

After having worked in management consulting, Catherine went to the Harvard Business School to complete her MBA where she had the chance to explore industries that would best suit her career aspirations. This is where Catherine’s ideal choice of industry became clear; fast-paced retail was for her.

At Groupe Dynamite, Catherine found she was in her element. Her ability to influence the organization and think at high and detailed levels allowed her to complete multiple cross-functional projects while gaining a deeper understanding of business operations. “If you have the opportunity to work on a cross-functional project, take it! Having a 360° perspective on the business is incredibly valuable for an employee’s growth and development. It’ll also fill your career toolbox with very useful skills,” Catherine urges.

Lead by inspiration

According to Catherine, the most important quality in a leader is the ability to inspire and rally people towards a common vision. As you grow in your career, success won’t come from your individual contribution, but rather from the combined efforts of the entire team: “When you lead by inspiration, it increases your ability ten-fold to “get s**t done”—Dynamite’s motto in 2017! Because it’s not just about you, it’s about the army getting s**t done, getting the right s**t done.”

 

QUICKFIRE QUESTIONS

  • What is your strongest asset as a leader?

“The ability to influence. My professional experience—before and during my time at Dynamite—has taught me how to work with and influence people from different backgrounds and at different levels of seniority. There is no one-size-fits-all approach—adaptability is key!”

  • What is your biggest challenge in your role?

“Prioritizing and aligning. As a growing business in a changing competitive landscape, we have so many ideas and aspirations; it can be challenging at times to decide where to focus our efforts and resources.”

  • What is your proudest career moment?

“Seeing people who have worked under my guidance get promoted. I get very invested in the success of my teams and am energized by their success. I also strongly believe that our future success as a business will depend on our ability to grow and develop our talent.”

  • What have you learned from working with millennials?

“When you become more experienced, you tend to think too much or let previous patterns drive the way you think, which can hinder your ability to innovate. Millennials aren’t biased by their past experiences; they have a fresh perspective that can be very inspiring and helpful to crack difficult business problems. They also refuse to accept status quo and believe in making the world a better place, one step at a time.”

  • As the youngest Vice President, what do you think you bring to the Executive Team?

“Because I’ve worked on so many corporate projects in the company, I have a cross-functional perspective on current and future strategies, so I have the ability to map out the steps to reaching our big goals.”

Catherine is very ambitious about Groupe Dynamite’s future and believes we can successfully compete with the biggest global players. Understanding our customer inside and out—before she knows her own needs!—will be the key to our success. We can’t wait to see what Catherine has in store for us—no pun intended. 😉

CLIMBING THE LADDER WITH MELISSA

Strong-willed and passionate, Melissa Hughes likes new challenges. This attitude has allowed her to work her way up through the company since she first started working at Groupe Dynamite 12 years ago.

When Melissa was first introduced to the retail industry at age 14, she was more interested in sports than shoes, but has since discovered a strong fondness for fashion. After setting foot in a Garage store for the first time, she was deeply impressed with the level of enthusiasm and energy shown by the team, and she knew instantly that this was the work environment she was looking for.

Since 2004, she has quickly moved from the ground up by fulfilling multiple roles at the location where she was initially hired. She later took on more responsibilities when she became a Manager. Melissa demonstrated versatile skills as she managed to support and assist stores in need before ensuring the training of new Store Managers and District Sales Supervisors in her territory. After being with the company for 7 years, she was ready for new challenges in her young professional career and became a District Sales Supervisor. Melissa has received many awards for the quality of her work throughout the years. She currently occupies a very strategic position within the company as a Sales Director.

MOTO

 “When you’re through changing, you’re through.”

5 KEY ELEMENTS TO CLIMBING THE LADDER

  • Try new things. Don’t be scared to make mistakes!
  • Be ambitious and set your goal.
  • Embrace the change and learn from it.
  • Empower others around you.
  • Always push the bar (don’t stop at “good”, reach for “great”).

TO PURSUE A CAREER IN FASHION

Find a company that shares your personal values, because if you don’t connect with the company, you’re not going to be able to create a lasting relationship. It’s key!

MY YEARS OF EXPERIENCE HAVE TAUGHT ME…

To believe in others’ potential! Years ago, someone (Melanie Jay, not to name names…) put her faith in me and I owe her for taking that chance on me. She has pushed me and motivated me to always take that next step. I hope to one day be that same person for somebody else.

FUTURE GOALS

Continue to grow people forward and grow the business through our core competencies. Provide guidance and share my knowledge with employees to help them understand where the company is coming from and where it’s going.

IN NUMBERS…

Melissa is overlooking:

  • 50 stores
  • 4 districts
  • 4 Supervisors
  • 3 Head Merchandisers

 

 

 

 

 

WHY I FELL IN LOVE WITH WORKING IN RETAIL

Just like that, another holiday season has come and gone. Throughout these last few months, I’ve probably asked myself on countless occasions what day, month, or year it was. I also asked myself what I ever did to deserve to be in the midst of the holiday shopping chaos as I refolded the jeans in the denim wall for the 30th time in one day, attempted the impossible by trying to get a parka, sweater and shirt on one mannequin or ran around the store grabbing sizes for what seemed like every girl or woman in the city. But I made it and all people who work in retail made it! While the list of challenges that come along with the holiday season might seem daunting at times, the memories and successes experienced with our teams far outweigh the negatives.

Friends

THE FRIENDS YOU MAKE

With the hustle and bustle of that time of year, I got to build incredible relationships between our teams. Having people at work that make my days count only ensures that the hours go by quicker and that they are more enjoyable. It challenges us to work harder and more efficiently, and obviously allows us to appreciate the undoubtedly ridiculously good sense of humour everyone at Groupe Dynamite has. But mostly, we get to support one another and build each other up to perform at our best.

P1018479 (2) retouched

THE CLOTHES YOU GET

Need I say more? Is there any better feeling than wearing the latest trends and knowing you got it for a great price, and all because you work for Groupe Dynamite?! I think not.   

THE STORIES YOU GET TO TELL YOUR FAMILY & FRIENDS

If there is one thing that is guaranteed in retail, it’s that you collect the best stories. Whether it’s a mom that came in with an adorably cute baby who danced to the store’s music, the girl who needed help finding the perfect dress for her first semi-formal dance, or regular customers that needed help getting styled from head to toe for an incredible price, it’s all these little moments that make it all worthwhile, and that make working in retail just too much fun. 

Cheers to a new year and to more friends, clothes and stories to enjoy along the way!

Maraki_portrait

Maraki Kifle

Store Manager, Ottawa

Meet our Fabric Team!

We sat down with the GD Fabric team to chat about their roles and challenges, and we got to learn some helpful fabric care and cleaning tips along the way!

Q1: What role does the Fabric team play at GD?

The team is mostly responsible for sourcing and developing the fabrics, from conceptualization to quality approval and fabric standardization for bulk production. We work closely with the Design and Import teams, as well as with suppliers and sourcing partners.

Q2: Where do you get your inspiration from? How do you stay informed on the latest fabric trends and findings?

By attending international fabric fairs in Europe and Asia, and by working closely with mills and doing regular market visits.

Q3: What is the main challenge you are facing right now?

We currently have to deal with post G20 production congestion at dyeing and finishing mills, which means we have to constantly push our suppliers to prioritize our fabric orders so that we can manufacture our garments on time.

Q4: At what point in the designing process does the Fabric team’s expertise come into play?

The Fabric team is involved at the very beginning of the creation of a garment since the choice of fabric and the understanding of its behaviour is an important part of a successful design.

Q5: What type of knowledge/academic training should one seek if he/she wants to choose this career path?

To make it in the fabric domain, you have to understand trends, product and design, and you must have a great sense of business and organization. You also need to study how fabric is created and what can or can’t be done with it (i.e., Can we make it softer? Can it be printed? Can we make it heavier or lighter? Etc.).

Mini Survey

  1. How do you remove a red wine stain from a white shirt? Do not scrub; dab the stain with a paper towel or a fabric cloth to absorb as much wine as possible. Spread salt all over the stain and pour boiling water over it.
  2. How do you remove ink from a white shirt (we tend to give our white shirts quite a hard time)? Place a clean cloth underneath the stained fabric. Apply hair spray until the stain is saturated. Blot with a damp cloth; do not rub. Repeat until the stain lifts, then wash in cold water. Make sure the stain is removed before putting the garment in the dryer as the heat will set the stain.
  3. What’s the best way to pack a suitcase in order to avoid wrinkles? Lay all your clothes flat, one on top of the other. Then fold all the sleeves and the hems together. Saves a ton of space!!!
  4. How do you wash your denim to prevent it from fading too quickly? Don’t wash it too soon or too often, break your jeans in first! If you need to wash it, use cold water, wash it inside out, use a very little amount of soap to prevent excessive colour fading, and do not use the dryer!  If you want to get rid of smells, you can fold and place your denim in a sealed bag and place it in the freezer for a few days. The cold will kill the bacteria causing the smell!
  5. What’s the best natural stain remover? White vinegar
  6. The must-have fabric to stay on trend for fall 2016? Tencel blends
  7. Which fabric is the easiest to take care of? Synthetic fabrics, such as polyester
  8. What’s the most breathable fabric for sportswear? New generations of technical fabrics are created to wick moisture away from the body—it evaporates on the surface, keeping you cool. Some of the trademarked synthetic wicking fabrics that you should be looking for are suplex, tacte and dri-fit.
  9. What’s the softest fabric? Vicuna wool
  10. What’s the best fabric to keep you warm? Wool

CLIMBING THE LADDER

Meet Sheena. An accomplished, passionate and devoted Divisional Merchandise Director for the Dynamite brand. She oversees the denim, outerwear and woven (bottoms) Buying teams.

Sheena joined Groupe Dynamite five years ago as a Product Manager. Prior to that, she wore many hats at different retailers and even worked in the United States. Ever since she’s set foot in this industry, she’s been climbing the ladder. With a strong business acumen and dedication to her work, Sheena’s career is progressing fast.

Her competitiveness is what motivates her to always go the extra mile. It’s all about how she can make it better! Her stimulating team keeps her motivated; they love to challenge each other in different ways.

HOW TO STAND OUT

In her opinion, the people that stand out in this industry are people that speak up. If you want to be a buyer and a leader, you need to be able to have an opinion. Persuasion is key.  “Every day, I’m selling an idea that I want people to buy. As much as I believe in the product, everyone else has to believe in it too.”

TIPS TO MAKE IT

Her advice to anyone wanting to make it in the fashion world: be perseverant. “You have to be in it because you love what you do.” This is a career. It’s so rewarding when you get to a position where you start seeing the repercussions of your decisions, which are directly contributing to the success of the company.

As a buyer, you need to understand the reasoning behind every single decision, behind every single button, zipper, and colour that you choose. You need to understand the customer, the market. “Being able to listen and understand the mindset behind your leaders is so important, as it will allow you to learn fast and grow.”

HER NEXT STEPS

What is next for Sheena? She just loves being a merchant and can’t see herself doing anything else. But opportunities are endless at Groupe Dynamite, so you never know what to expect!

 

Looking for new players

Last fall, our Head Office welcomed about a hundred students from different business schools to our recruitment cocktail. It was the perfect occasion for them to broaden their professional network and to learn more about the different opportunities at GD for new graduates. Our leaders were there to meet the new generation of talent and to share their experiences in a friendly ambiance. 

We were also at the “Fashion Business Uncovered” event, organized by students from McGill University, and for which Groupe Dynamite was the main sponsor. Always on the lookout for new players, our Talent team took the opportunity to speak with several students who are passionate about the fashion industry. 

Groupe Dynamite actively participates in different student events and takes to heart the integration of young graduates onto the job market! 

 

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