Outdoor Afro’s Rue Mapp recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Maggie Ricketts, the Director of Talent Management & Recruiting of REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.) Their interview touched on aspects of REI’s employment opportunities, philosophy, and Maggie’s personal role at the co-op.
Outdoor Afro is happy to kick off an ongoing spotlight of REI Career opportunities, starting with this interview with Maggie, to inspire Outdoor Afros to learn more about REI and ways to get involved.
Why did you join REI?
My husband was an REI member for years and he introduced me to the store when we moved to the Pacific NW. After working for another NW retailer, I learned about REI as employer when I attended a local chamber meeting. Their values and their mission attracted me. A friend who worked at the company made a connection, even though there were no roles at the time. I moved to Ohio, but was convinced to come back and have not looked back since – I’ve been here for 5 years.
What is your role at REI?
I lead Talent Management and Recruiting, where my team focuses on recruiting for roles in our distribution centers, call center, headquarters and retail management. We also provide support for new store openings. We also look internally to make sure there is a pipeline for career advancement, and that REI invests in the right people and programs to develop the next cadre of leaders. This is important as REI continues to grow.
Why was REI selected as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For?
We are very proud of our ongoing ranking on Fortune’s list. REI is all about the people, we care about the people, and this philosophy guides how REI operates. Being a co-op means REI takes that spirit into everything we do, and we take the long view. Our model is inspired by the desire to do the right thing versus what is most expedient. REI is not like many larger corporations, we are walking the talk with a sensibility around a higher purpose – not just about profitability. As staff, we have a shared passion for the outdoors and within this, we inspire, educate, and outfit. REI cares deeply about environmental education and making sure the outdoors is protected.
We also value a team-based culture, and create an environment where collaboration is important and we like to share the glory with other contributors with common values. Here, your voice is heard as an individual, and while this is a challenge as we grow, we keep it as part of our core values.
We know REI has retail stores all around the country – but what are some positions that you believe Outdoor Afro readers might not realize exist at REI?
People think of us as a retailer, and indeed we have store level roles that cover many areas. REI attracts a vast array of people to our retail division who are really passionate about the outdoors. However, what you may not know is that some REI members are retired and chose to work at REI because of their personal interests. We also have professionals such as doctors, teachers, and others with full-time jobs who enjoy working in retail because they get to engage with the community. They also can also benefit from our employee discounts (30% typically– and manufacturer incentives mean up to 70% off). We also have a robust corporate campus environment – from e-commerce, IT, Marketing, Merchandising, Private Brand Group, Finance, and HR. We also have roles in our outdoor adventure schools – a wide variety of roles!
What are one or two REI employment benefits that you think are outstanding?
REI cares deeply about our employees – and we offer part time employees healthcare, as well as keep insurance rates affordable. All employees are able to participate in our incentive plan. We offer an incredible tenure – which is very unusual for retail – and paid sabbatical after 15 years of service. REI also offers generous retirement and profit sharing – 5% contribution and up to 10% is added based on how well we perform as a company each year..
REI and Diversity?
We have a solid and enthusiastic vision for diversity, and think about its many facets including our customers, our employees and our partnerships. Just last year, we hired Laura Swapp, as our new Director of Diversity and Inclusion who is guiding our effort, and we are very excited for our future.
Click here for more information about jobs at REI!