Build-A-Bear Catch-Up

Alright, so I have been slacking in my blog posts – but there is a lot to write.  I am going on vacation immediately after my internship ends (!) on Friday though and unfortunately, do not have a ton of time.  As such, I will not be able to go into as much depth on some of these topics as I would have otherwise done.

On Monday, all of the interns gave a presentation on each of our experiences this summer at Build-A-Bear Workshop to the Chiefs and Managing Directors of the company as well as all of the intern supervisors.  We had five minutes to cover a lot of information: who I am, summary of projects, highlight a key project(s) (I selected the International Holiday Toolkit), key takeaways from the summer, and the affect of the internship on career plans.  My presentation went well I believe (I mean, it did include a vuvuzela on the table and a joke about Excel) and I have been pleased with the feedback I have gotten – including from the CEO and from the President!

Yesterday, I had the privilege to sit down for about half an hour with Maxine Clark, Chief Executive Bear and Chairman of Build-A-Bear Workshop.  She was very welcoming.  Meeting with her was not stressful, but rather seemed like a conversation with a very knowledgable friend.  She asked what questions I had about the company or her.  I asked about her thoughts on company growth,the role of international, the importance of philanthropy to her personally and to the company, how she manages time, company culture, when she knew she “made it”, what was the inspiration behind the company/what convinced her to give up her job as President of Payless Shoesource to start Build-A-Bear Workshop, among other questions.  She was very honest and shared some of her personal history with me.  It was a great conversation.  It is easy to see why she is so admired and how the company has grown so quickly.  She is definitely a role model.  Maxine ended our conversation by asking for a hug. 🙂

Today was the quarterly BearQuarters meeting.  I was involved in a few parts for which we practiced yesterday.  They began the meeting by recognizing new associates, including the interns.  We got several shout outs, which was nice.  Maxine introduced the first speaker, a lady from the United Way.  Her story was extremely potent.  Build-A-Bear has a company campaign to support the United Way and this was certainly a great way to get people energized for it.  The meeting included presentations by Tina Klocke, Chief Operations and Financial Bear (CFO), and John Haugh, President and Chief Marketing Bear, about the state of the business.  It certainly is encouraging.  There was also a presentation on corporate sales.

I was involved in two other pieces of the meeting: the international presentation and the fashion show.  Tim made a presentation at the meeting on news about the international franchisees including new business development, world cup sales, landmark store sales, and awards in Australia.  In honor of the success of Mexico, we had pinatas which we broke during the meeting.  It was a great surprise.

Before Maxine spoke to conclude the meeting (during which time she mentioned the importance and value of diversity!), there was a fashion show to show off the new product that will premiere during the quarter.  Most of the interns helped with this.  It was the first time I have been paid to be in a fashion show! Although, I guess the animals had the fashion…  Be sure to check out the Smallfrys when they premiere in September.  They are awesome and I really want them… all.  I am glad that I had the opportunity to see one of this meetings and participate in it.

I have been working on a lot of projects lately including preparing PowerPoints for the fall International Operations Summit, new business government filing for expansion, evaluation of world cup sales in anticipation of 2014, preparing the FY2011 International Department budget, and more.  I will post my final list of projects after the internship is over.

Today I was putting together one of the PowerPoints for the fall Summit and included the video from the Fortune “100 Best Companies to Work For”.  If you watch it, you will see several people I have ben working with closely this summer – including my new dog friend, Heath.

Tomorrow, Cory and I are going to lunch with the international team.  I’m looking forward to it, but it also makes me a bit sad to realize that the internship is ending.  I have several other meetings tomorrow though.  When I met with Maxine, she suggested meeting with a few other people before I leave so tomorrow I am meeting with Tina (CFO) and Eric Fencl (General Counsel).  I look forward to those meetings.

It was clear from today’s meeting that we have been appreciated and our work recognized throughout the company.  I will certainly miss working there.  Two more days.  Wow!

Today and Tomorrow

A few thoughts that may not necessarily be in any logical order:

Today I met with John Haugh, President Marketing and Merchandising Bear at Build-A-Bear Workshop. From our meeting, it is clear that John is an intelligent, interesting, capable (and funny) leader.  Sophia, another intern, and I met with him for a little over half an hour.  He was interested in our stories and our experiences with the company as well as how we think they can improve the business.  I asked him questions related to future growth (including international specific) and how he got to such a high position so quickly (he is only 45!).  John had very interesting ideas and plans.  I tried to observe how he progressed from idea to idea and how his thoughts progressed.  He is definitely taking the company in a good direction.

I went to Oberweis tonight with my friend Emily where we caught up and played chess (I got progressively better, which shouldn’t have been hard from where I started).  I got Brownie Fudge Twirl ice cream.  I usually get Chocolate Peanut Butter there.  Both are quite good.

I had expected this week to be a bit slower at work with Tim, my primary supervisor, being out of the office for most of the week.  Instead, it has been quite busy and I have not gotten everything done that I thought I would.  I have helped determine if merchandise is available in the US and UK warehouses for a potential store opening and assist in a merchandise review for another country, among other projects.

Tomorrow is the Huggable Hereos luncheon at Build-A-Bear where kids who do pretty amazing things are being recognized by the company.  Check out their stories.  I’ve heard great things and am pretty excited.

Tomorrow I am heading down to S-F to visit camp.  This should be my last visit this summer.  I’m actually rather sad about this and hoping that the weekend goes well.  Who knows what the future holds for my time at camp.  Regardless, it is likely that this could be the last time I will be at the S-F Scout Ranch with so many of my good friends.