VF Corporation is one of the world’s largest apparel, footwear and accessories companies connecting people to the lifestyles, activities, and experiences they cherish most through a family of iconic outdoor, active, and workwear brands.
The company is responsible for the consumer goods of well-known brands like The North Face, Timberland, Vans, and many others. For the latter two, Mahad Abdullahi had the pleasure of directly supporting, and his role is no minor feat. As the Change and Process Optimisation Manager, his position oversees projects and case management through multiple divisions. They provide research for best practices, training, leadership, and customer service values.
He attributes a large part of his eight-year success within VF to his natural inquisitiveness and interest in problem-solving. His global world view also helps, as the aspects of diversity, inclusion, and celebrating one another’s differences, not merely accepting them, help him connect with his teams more efficiently and drive contribution.
Learn more about his experiences and how they’ve shaped him to become a leader in several global markets with brands that significantly impact the world and the diaspora.
BYP: What skills did you come into VF with, and which have you acquired along the way?
Mahad: Before VF, I had a couple of different roles [and] I picked up various skill sets. The key thing that helped me when I started in VF was my curiosity. I’m very keen on figuring out how to solve an issue and improve a process or oversee a small project. What’s helped me is building connections. It’s been a massive part of my progression. I had to improve my people skills and pass on those skills to my team by actively coaching and developing them.
BYP: Describe diversity in an applicable sense?
Mahad: It’s the awareness of differences in people. We are naturally diverse at VF based on the size of the company. I also cross-function in a lot of what I do, and because of the markets that we have, it is very common that many of our colleagues speak a few languages. We are naturally diverse, so it’s just about understanding and celebrating that diversity.
BYP: What does changing the narrative mean to you?
Mahad: I think the narrative has been that differences are a scary thing for a long time, and people should be wary of how they approach them. I believe it is essential to be considerate of people, but the differences, if anything, should be something to celebrate. It makes us exciting and gives us a variety of perspectives and views on the same topic.
People often find it intimidating to join a big corporation, especially a well-known corporation. What I like at VF is that you have an opportunity to decide what your experience is like. In VF, we are always free and encouraged to share ideas and opinions.
BYP: What self-development or professional development tools do you recommend?
Mahad: I would say that I’ve had a chance to join quite a few groups around change and project development. Get to see what kind of challenges people are going through. Also, hearing from industry-leading experts that talk about things that are coming up allows me to prepare and adjust. You would be surprised at how many of these people are in a similar position. Don’t be afraid to reach out, to connect with people.
BYP: What legacy would you want to leave behind and why?
Mahad: Professionally, I would love to support anyone going through the same journey as I am. It might have been me ten years ago. I want to allow people to leverage my experience and lessons learned.
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