Class of 2016
Digital Merchandising Coordinator
As Jim Lyerly (’16 MBA) enrolled in the Bryan School, he envisioned following his longtime passion for clothing into the global apparel industry. Lyerly did not have to wait long. Six months before graduation, he landed a full-time job at VF Corp., a global lifestyle apparel company with more than 30 brands and $12.4 billion in revenue.
“With its broad portfolio of brands, prestige and opportunities, VF was one of my dream places to work,” Lyerly says. A number of factors led to his job as a digital merchandising coordinator for Wrangler.com, including the skill sets Lyerly developed and honed at the Bryan School and two internships that gave him valuable on-the-job training. Throughout his time at UNCG, Lyerly has been involved in networking programs, including taking an instrumental role in organizing mentoring events for first- and second-year students. “Networking is extremely crucial,” Lyerly says. In fact, the Bryan School’s rich network of corporate partners and connections introduced him to several top-tier employers, including VF.
Lyerly earned his undergraduate degree in business from The University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 2013 and went to work as assistant store manager for a discount apparel and home fashion chain. “I really enjoyed the retail/apparel business, but I wanted to break into the corporate setting,” Lyerly says. “I knew an MBA would make me more attractive to a company long term.” As a native of Charlotte who preferred to stay in North Carolina, Lyerly knew he had several choices for MBA education, but the Bryan School’s high rankings and its reputation for a strong return on investment made the Day MBA Program the right choice.
Lyerly got his foot in the door at Greensboro-based VF with an internship that began in August, at the start of his second year in the MBA program. At the time, he was finishing another internship—that one with Liberty Hardware Mfg. Corp., a major producer of decorative and functional hardware in Winston-Salem. At Liberty, Lyerly helped develop e-commerce marketing strategies for bath hardware: His key deliverable was creating a generator of rich content for the web.
The experience at Liberty dovetailed nicely with Lyerly’s current role at VF, where he manages Wrangler kids, men’s shorts and accessories lines on Wrangler.com. He does everything from forecasting sales to managing merchandizing efforts to working with a consumer relations team to keep customers happy. One thing Lyerly loves about the job: It is ever-evolving. During the first few months in his current role, Lyerly already had taken on responsibilities for additional product categories.
The Bryan School’s mission of creating nimble problem-solvers is serving Lyerly well. “Digital merchandizer is such a growing field. I don’t even know what my job might involve a year from now,” Lyerly says. “But my MBA equipped me to problem solve. I learned to be able to work constantly with new responsibilities, new teams, new technologies, new data. That is what we did every day at the Bryan School.”
Article by Julie Palm
Photograph by Martin Kane