June 2013
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TD Magazine

One to Watch: Omari Aarons

Saturday, June 8, 2013

onetowatch
  Title: Director of Stores Credit and Loyalty Program Education

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Company: Macy's

Education: BA, Communication Arts: Public Relations and Theology, Xavier University

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/omarijahiaarons

In his position with Macy's and Bloomingdale stores, Aarons's responsibilities include new-hire orientation, floor updates on company POS systems, legal compliance issues, loyalty program changes, and loyalty marketing offers.

His team also is responsible for conducting in-store training on the company's credit and loyalty program by providing insight on coaching strategies that help store associates better understand the business case behind the loyalty program, and provide practical ways to talk about the program with customers.

What advice do you have for those entering the profession?

Prior decisions were—in many cases—the best possible decisions that could've been made at that time. Show respect for these decisions because there probably is a really good reason why something is done a certain way.

You also have to know why you're in the room, and own it. Although sometimes other people can't see it, when you are at the table making decisions, representing someone, or serving as a liaison, you have to understand why you're there and not allow anyone to dismiss you because of your age. Be able to make contributions—this means coming fully prepared, doing your homework, asking questions, and admitting when you don't understand something.

So being humble, open, and respectful, but still owning your role, is important for all young learning and development professionals.

Best part of the job

The development piece is key for me because it's about helping people do their jobs better—be better people, better leaders, better managers, and better coaches.

I really enjoy watching people learn something and seeing the light bulb moment happen—when all of a sudden something that they were struggling with starts to make sense.

3 qualities for success

1. I'm people oriented. Relationships are key, and no matter what message you have to deliver, if people believe that the place you're coming from is sincere, then they will receive difficult messages a little better because they understand that you're on their side.

2. I'm open. I have to step back, keep an open mind, and create room for people to convince me and share their side—just like I want them to give me room to convince them and share my perspective.

3. I'm driven. I'm a competitive person, so I always want to go from good to great. And that drive continues to push me, and I think it enables me to influence my peers and push them, as well as the team that I manage.

In his twitter timeline

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Cornel West (@CornelWest). I had the opportunity to hear him speak when he came to Xavier. After his talk he sat down with a group of us for about three hours, and he was an amazingly personable, normal guy talking about his books and his family.

Cory Booker (@CoryBooker), mayor of Newark, New Jersey. I find some of his quotes to be extremely inspiring, and I like his approach as a younger person in politics. He's someone who, to me, comes off as transparent and accessible ... and [is] a great example of what leadership is about on every level.

The Future

In five to 10 years I hope I will be in a position of greater influence, with more direct accountability to the learning process and to helping people grow. My team is very cross-functional and collaborative.

I see the industry evolving toward a similar model—being able to pull several different functions together, initiating such collaboration, and leading and engaging processes across the board.

Staying Current in the Field

I read a lot of articles. LinkedIn is great for this because people post articles within different interest groups—like ASTD National. I also take advantage of technology, and often search the Internet for an article or video on something of interest, like how to be a better active listener. And I stay on top of trends that are going on in the regional industry, the loyalty program industry, and the education industry.

Favorite Websites

Facebook and LinkedIn probably are my top two websites. My friends post great content, and normally that’s the starting place of my finding other material. 

Outside of those sites, if I’m looking for direct content, I’ll go to Forbes.com. And I also get a daily email from Harvard Business Review, in which they push out different articles—what’s been posted on their site and their blog content from other contributors as well.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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