David Harrell B’07 loves his job as business strategy analyst with Old Navy, but his journey to finding his ideal career has not been easy.

While attending the University, Harrell interned with Circuit City as a business transformation analyst, where he implemented new technology systems to assist with merchandising, pricing, and inventory planning. After working part-time at Circuit City throughout his senior year, Harrell accepted a full-time position in demand forecasting and inventory management in the midst of the company’s gradual financial decline.

Harrell enjoyed his role in forecasting at Circuit City, and he especially liked having the ability to analyze and predict how much of a specific product a company might sell and in what locations the product might best sell.

In 2008, when the company’s demise was becoming more and more inevitable, Harrell decided against scouring job boards or interviewing with other firms. Instead, he poured himself into his work and resolved to stick it out, until the bitter end, if that became the reality.

“I thought it would look favorably, even if [Circuit City] went under, if I was loyal. The whole reason I joined [Circuit City] was because I liked the idea of being a part of a potential turnaround story,” he said.

Finally, in January of 2009 when Circuit City collapsed, Harrell started to research other large, consumer-based companies like Amazon, Nike, PetCo, and Gap, Inc.

It was actually through Harrell’s former manager at Circuit City that he learned about a vacancy for an inventory planner with Old Navy (a subsidiary of Gap, Inc.). Harrell went through a series of phone interviews with Old Navy and then flew out to San Francisco, California, for his final interview.

In April of 2009, Harrell accepted a position with the retail giant and started packing for the West Coast.

Harrell’s first role as inventory planner at Old Navy was much like his position at Circuit City. He focused on forecasting demand for the children’s business at Old Navy; Harrell predicted how much the company could sell and analyzed many pieces of internal data on sales performance of specific items like sweaters or jeans.

In August of this year, Harrell was tapped for the position of business strategy analyst at Old Navy. Harrell examines high-level business trends that are happening across the retail industry, a concept he first learned and developed an interest in during his Strategic Management class in the Robins School.

“The Strategic Management class is really what prompted me to get into this role. [In] Strategic Management, we did a lot of what I get to do now, focus on the big picture. All of the business cases we did within Doug Bosse’s (PhD) class were focused on analyzing companies against their competitors, which is what I get to do all of the time now,” Harrell explained.

The Robins School of Business gave Harrell the foundation necessary for success in his position. “I got a good grounding in a number of different concepts through my finance and marketing concentrations. [Business Administration with a concentration in marketing and finance] is a perfect major for this type of role. In school, I analyzed a lot of numbers, compared balance sheets and income statements to understand the core financials of different companies,” he said.

In addition, Harrell’s marketing courses instilled in him a curiosity for understanding and observing consumer behavior, according to him.

Harrell’s ability to analyze consumer behavior everyday is what he enjoys most in his position. “I like what I do because it’s focused on the big picture, on the consumer area of the world; it’s focused on why we, as consumers, do what we do,” he said.