Ana Ibarra is a final-year student of the Dual Degree in Laws & International Relations at IE University. She has also studied in Milan, Paraguay and Canada, and was an IE Business Plan Challenge Winner earlier in her IE University career.
During her penultimate year of studies, she was selected to participate in the 2020 UNIQLO Global Management Program. This initiative brings together 45 top students from around the world as they explore the different areas of the top retail firm, and then go on to complete a five-day experience at the company’s head offices in Tokyo, Japan.
And after Ana’s fulfilling experience during the 2020 UNIQLO Global Management Program, she was selected to be part of the UNIQLO Graduate Program, which she will be joining after graduation. This scheme looks to develop graduates into UNIQLO’s future leaders, and teaches carefully selected candidates all aspects of business leadership so they are prepared to run their own UNIQLO store after completion.
Since opening their first store in 1984 in Japan, UNIQLO has gone on to open over 2,000 stores in 24 markets across the world. Ana’s experience with UNIQLO is a great boost for her personal development and professional career. Read on to find out more!
What exactly is the UNIQLO Global Management Program?
The Global Management Program is a unique opportunity to hear from and interact with business experts from different areas of the company, as well as to work with high-achieving students from all around the world.
From a number of outstanding applications, 45 students are selected worldwide to participate in this program. Their goal is to tackle one of the brand’s real global issues and provide a solution through collaboration and discussion. The program culminates with five days of intensive business study in Tokyo, where you are granted the unique opportunity to visit the head offices and stores.
This program is designed to offer current students an immersive experience in the different areas of the company. It is a truly amazing program that I highly recommend to anyone.
How did you hear about the UNIQLO Global Management Program, and why were you interested in applying?
I found out about the Global Management Program through the IE University careers site, and I applied immediately. I had been following UNIQLO for a long time, but my interest in the company grew significantly after the 2014 collaboration with Alexander Wang.
The concept of LifeWear attracted my attention, with its promise to provide high-quality and affordable clothing that makes people feel their best. I believe we tend to overlook the power that clothing has on us when the reality is that what you wear impacts your performance.
UNIQLO has also understood how the industry lines are blurring and has worked to become not only a fashion retailer but also a tech company. A product of this is great, innovative designs, such as the HEATTECH collection or AIRism technology. In addition, the Ariake project was launched with the intention of it becoming a digital consumer retail company.
Finally, UNIQLO is a company that can be distinguished by its focus on people. Their investment in talent is amazing and unprecedented.
These reasons, among many others, are what pushed me to apply to the GMP. I knew I wanted a more in-depth understanding of the company and to benefit from the insights this program could bring me.
When did you hear about the UNIQLO Graduate Program, and why were you interested?
The Graduate Program is referred to as the UNIQLO Manager Candidate Program (UMC). I had been aware of the UMC for some time, however it wasn’t until I joined the Global Management Program that I really understood what it meant.
UNIQLO has very high standards when it comes to its employees. One of the company’s core principles that caught my attention is that of Zen-in Keiei, which means that every single individual in the company is expected to have a business owner mindset—everyone should behave as a business leader.
Starting from the bottom is essential when it comes to putting this concept into practice. The ultimate goal of the UMC program is to give young professionals the opportunity to truly learn about the product and the customer, while at the same time offering a career plan supported by investment in the professional development of each participant. This is done through intense training that will prepare you to take on a wide variety of roles and work in different departments, but most importantly it will transform you into a business leader.
How did IE’s Talent & Careers team help you secure these opportunities?
The Talent & Careers team has always been available and ready to help, through the offer of a wide variety of resources that help students prepare for key aspects such as CV building, drafting of cover letters, and much more. I would like to specifically mention Laura Simon, who has been extremely helpful throughout the years.
I encourage every student to use the resources that IE University has to offer and get involved in more than the strictly academic. Activities such as career-building seminars or company talks can make a huge difference.
What would you say to other students interested in these opportunities?
I would encourage them to apply! Whether you’re still a student or you are graduating this year, these two opportunities are open for you. If you are looking for a company that will invest in you and train you to become the best professional you can be, UNIQLO is your place.
I personally see this job as a way to become a change agent and help UNIQLO to impact society in a positive way through its corporate mission, to enrich people’s lives.
As Ana concludes, “UNIQLO is growing so fast that it sets the stage for unrivaled opportunities. Diversity, hard work, and curiosity are extremely valued and how much you grow and achieve is up to you. I would encourage everyone to adopt a continuous learning mindset. This means you should always try to be better because you will never be the best you can be, and that is not something to stress about, it’s something to look forward to!” We wish Ana the best of luck during her career with UNIQLO.