B.S. Textile and Apparel Management, 2010
Manager of Global Diversity Programs and Partnerships
Bain & Company
After graduating in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in textile and apparel management, Chloe Ford ’10 served as a manager at a number of retail store locations.
It was her next role, as a recruiter for the Wilson College of Textiles, that led her to her dream career. During her two years in that position, she helped increase the college’s application rate by 40 percent, coordinated the Summer Textile Exploration Program (STEP) and introduced numerous students to the only college in the United States devoted entirely to textiles. Ford had never felt so fulfilled, and she fell in love with recruiting.
Today, Ford is the manager of global diversity programs and partnerships at Bain & Company, where she leads a successful diversity, equity and inclusion strategic partnership team in New York City.
When she returns to NC State during Pan-Afrikan Week or Homecoming, she always makes time to visit her old stomping grounds at the Wilson College of Textiles.
Below, you will find Ford’s invaluable advice for the next generation of textile students.
Q&A with Chloe Ford '10
Why did you choose NC State and the Wilson College of Textiles?
As a young girl, I knew that exploring the fashion industry was a huge dream of mine. After exploring multiple universities and programs in high school, I settled on the fact that I would have to venture out to New York to pursue my goal.
During my search, my parents encouraged me to consider schools within the North Carolina area and I quickly learned of the Wilson College of Textiles. I had the opportunity to tour NC State and the Wilson College and fell in love.
Through multiple interactions with the staff, specifically Kent Hester, I learned about the Wilson College of Textiles STEP. I immediately knew that I would apply to the program and hopefully experience all that the college had to offer in an intimate and impactful way. Getting into the STEP changed the trajectory of my life! This one-week-long summer program helped me in more ways than I could count but most importantly, it solidified my decision to attend NC State and the Wilson College of Textiles.
What activities were you involved in as an NC State student and how did they impact your experience?
African American Textile Society, Black Student Union, Student Ambassador and a recruiter for the Wilson College of Textiles were all activities and jobs that I had the opportunity to engage in during my time at State. I would encourage anyone to join any of these as it helped me develop some amazing long-lasting relationships.
What is your fondest memory of being at NC State and the Wilson College of Textiles?
For the Wilson College of Textiles: All of the amazing fashion shows put on every semester. It was such a fun and special moment for the entire college. You could always feel the excitement around seeing your friends and peers show off their hard work. For NC State: Strolling through the campus!
What was your favorite place on campus and why?
Atrium Food Court, Talley Student Union and the Wilson College of Textiles Library. So many memories across all three of these locations. From study groups, meeting up friends for lunch, random activities in Talley — it was the energy more than anything and spending time with people who will always be important in my life.
Who influenced you most during your time at the Wilson College of Textiles? And, why or how?
So many people! Just to name a few: Professors Jeff Joines, Erika Ford, and staff members Tremaine Brittian, Liz Moran, Edward Brown and, of course, Kent Hester. Kent played such a pivotal role in my decision to apply to State and the Wilson College of Textiles, so he made a huge difference in my life.
How did your education at the Wilson College of Textiles prepare you for what you are doing today?
I studied textile and apparel management and the core of the curriculum was centered on understanding business principles. This has carried me through every aspect of my career. Regardless of the industry — it was the firm foundation provided by my professors, who all had amazing and full backgrounds, that continually helps me navigate such large companies through the lens of business acumen.
What advice do you have for current Wilson College of Textiles students?
Explore, explore, explore! Use this time to explore. Explore your gifts, talents, skills and intelligence. This is a rare opportunity in your life that you’ll be in one concentrated place with lots of eager, inquisitive and interesting people — all striving for a common goal. Take this time to learn more about your surroundings, the world and, most importantly, yourself.
While learning, make sure to stay in the present. Even though you have to be proactive and take the initiative to excel, don’t lose sight of the “now.” Yes, the future and your future goals are so tempting to obsess over when moments get tough, but remaining present and soaking up where you currently are will be moments that you will significantly cherish. The lessons you learn in the present will help to inform all the decisions your future self will make. There is so much value in taking the time to slow down and just acknowledge where you are, who you are and why this moment will always matter.
In what ways are you currently involved with the Wilson College of Textiles and NC State?
I had a unique experience, as I came back and worked for the college. This afforded me the amazing chance to run the (then) College of Textiles STEP and recruit some amazing students into the college. Though I’m not as active as I would like to be, I don’t take for granted that I may have influenced those students as they made one of the biggest decisions of their lives. That is my greatest impact on NC State and the Wilson College of Textiles. I’m forever grateful!
I am passively involved in the Alumni Association and try to occasionally come back to campus for Pan-Afrikan Week or Homecoming.
Please describe your current volunteer and leadership experience.
Currently, my volunteer work has centered around mentoring undergraduate students and early professionals in their career navigation, specifically those from underrepresented and/or marginalized groups. I believe in the impact someone can have in your life, especially for your career, and I strive to do my part in helping others accomplish their goals.
My leadership experience comes primarily from my career journey — from managing retail locations to creating a small team for strategic partnership building; it’s a wide range. What I’ve learned the most about effective leadership is operating with a servitude mindset. Finding ways that I can help and support my team in their own journeys is what fuels me to learn how to be a better leader every day.
Describe your career path.
Whew! It’s been a journey. Of course, I graduated with the intention to navigate throughout the fashion and textile industry, which I did with managing a number of retail locations. As I look back on it, these opportunities helped me build my business and leadership acumen and ultimately helped me move into my career.
Part of my role in managing these stores was the recruitment and hiring of the staff. I thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of the job and I was pretty good at hiring and coaching my team. As I began to search for the next step in my career, I wanted to explore the world of HR, specifically recruitment. In perfect alignment, the Wilson College of Textiles had a recruiter role open! As an alumna, this would be a perfect match and an easy transition into a new field.
Spending two years at the Wilson College of Textiles and recruiting some amazing students to land on NC State and the college as their next life decision was an amazing experience. I credit my career trajectory to this role. After spending two years with the college, I wanted to continue to explore recruitment in its full capacity. I landed with a finance company in a campus recruiter role. This opportunity left a huge impact and prompted me to take a risk to accept a more expanded role in New York City with a massive company. A dream!
From that point — I’ve spent the last few years developing a career in talent acquisition and finally transitioning into diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) recruitment. This journey has been a whirlwind, but I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing companies during my time in New York and make an impact in various capacities.
As of recently, I’ve shifted from finance into the consulting industry, where I have the amazing opportunity to lead a DEI strategic partnerships team. The last few years have felt like a blur, but out of the many students I have a chance to speak with — I always tell them to never be afraid to pivot and challenge themselves. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you can do!