Name: Taniqua Gillyard
Hometown: Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Current Title: Innovation Brand Planner at General Mills
Prior Professional Experience: 7 years in Logistics Management at General Mills
Education: Bachelor degree in Industrial Engineering and a Master’s of Science in Industrial Engineering
How did college prepare you for your first job post-graduation?
The two most important things college taught me was how to work with different types of people and personalities (group projects) and how to manage my time (school vs. homework vs. athletic games vs. work vs. campus involvement vs. visiting home). These two things have been critical to my professional success, so I’m thankful I had the chance to practice them before coming to General Mills.
How did you decide which industry you would work in? And your current role?
I focused less on the industry and more on the company. If I focused on industry alone, I would be working for a lipstick/cosmetics company! I focused on a company that had similar values to my own and allowed me the flexibility and work/life balance that I needed. My current role is a healthy blend of a fast-paced environment, with business facing exposure, while also growing technical depth of the complexities in supply chain. I wanted a role that allowed me to work with a cross functional team, with various skill sets, to make “magic” or “growth” for this company!
What has been the biggest challenge you've faced thus far in your career?
Leading with confidence instead of confirmation! There have been so many times in my academic career that I would go to my teachers office hours to do my homework. I had teachers tell me “you already know how to do this! You are here just for validation that you are doing it correctly”. I have received the same feedback in my career. I have learned my role and have already contributed greatly! Despite this, I sometimes continue to seek reassurance and validation that I am doing the “right” thing. I have to be careful not to forget how to lead or lose faith in my own ability to lead! So I continue to work at building that confidence.
What resources, professional or personal, have you leveraged to ensure your career is progressing?
MENTORS! MENTORS! MENTORS! My mentors are my unbiased, authentic, career moms and dads. They hold me accountable, encourage me to do better, let me know when my strengths are showing and when my weaknesses are hindering my growth, and so much more. In addition to strong mentors who have served as amazing resources. I’ve also invested time in developing a Career Roadmap. I built a career roadmap to let me know where I’ve been and where I hope to go. It’s so easy to devalue your early roles because they were entry-level. However, the earlier roles/experiences in my career are truly the most foundational. The higher you climb the corporate ladder, the less you have access to some of those small wins.
Do you have a mentor? If so, how did you select this person or people?
Yes! My mentors come from various aspects of life and points of their careers. Below are some of what I believe are the most traits of my mentors:
An external hire that has insight into the corporate World beyond General Mills
A professional that has moved to/from various functions to grow their breathe of experience
A professional that is in my current peer set
A professional that is at a higher level than me
A professional that looks like me and one who doesn’t
What do you wish you could tell your Sophomore-year self?
There are so many things! If I had to narrow it down to just a few, I’d say: Enjoy college, it moves faster than you think. Develop and strengthen a concrete skill. Take a risk and apply for an internship in a new state. Prioritize developing meaningful personal and professional relationships - you will cross paths again! Lastly, learn more about yourself and be who you are, so you can grow that confidence - you’re worth it!