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Professional Spotlight: Todd Corley

Todd Corley, Founder & Chief Strategist at the TAPO Institute

We are so excited to have Todd Corley, Founder and Chief Strategist at the TAPO Institute, as one of our keynote speakers for the Villanova HRD Annual Networking Reception on tomorrow, April 5th, in the Connelly Center on campus! Read on to learn more about Todd's track record of success, advice, and more! 

Todd Corley is the creator and catalyst of the TAPO Institute, a think tank and strategic advisor advocating inclusive leadership. He is the former corporate officer in charge of global diversity and inclusion for the iconic retailer, Abercrombie & Fitch.

In that role, he led an enterprise-wide transformation that included: 1) increasing the in-store minority population from below 10% to over 50% of total population (100,000 people) across all positions 2) achieving significant gender diversity among its senior ranks, with over 40% of the company’s vice presidents and 75% of executive vice presidents being female 3) positioning the brand as an LGBT-friendly employer, by securing a perfect score on the HRC Corporate Equality Index, for nine consecutive years.

Todd’s tenure at Abercrombie & Fitch ended in 2014 and overlapped several high profile discrimination cases including Gonzalez v. Abercrombie, which was at the epicenter of a $50M class-action settlement mandating his position be created in 2004 and EEOC v. Abercrombie, which was argued in front of- and decided by- the U.S. Supreme Court a year after he decided to leave the company. In that case, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered an 8 – 1 decision on June 1st, 2015 in favor of a Muslim woman who wore a hijab to her job interview.

Inspired by those experiences he recently penned his forthcoming book, Fitch Path, a cautionary tale about how to navigate generationally-driven shifts in beliefs and values. Todd takes a peek behind the curtain of the iconic A&F brand and explores how Millennials (Gen Y) and iGens (Gen Z) reshaped the self-conscious symbol of American youth and coolness and forged cultural transformation.

In August 2013, he was the recipient of the Claes Nobel, World Betterment Award, which was presented to him by Claes Nobel, the senior member of the esteemed family that established the Nobel Prizes.

He chairs the National Society of High School Scholars Foundation (NSHSSfdn), which serves 1M+ Millennial's (Gen Y) and iGen's (Gen Z) across 160 countries and previously chaired the Chief Diversity Officer Consortium, at Georgetown University.

Todd has an MBA from Georgetown University and is a graduate of the inaugural Brand & Reputation Management Program taught by Tuck Executive Education at Dartmouth College.

Q: What is a typical day at work like for you (e.g. activities, people you encounter, travel, etc.)?

A: There is really no typical day for me. However, the most common way to describe my encounters would be to say, that my clients are both curious and frustrated about how to successfully engage Millennials.

They struggle with the notion that "transparency" is the new normal and that being an inclusive leader is the standard in which employees are now critiquing employers.

Q: If you had to pick just ONE area in which you would label yourself a “rock star”, which area would that be and why?

A: The one area I believe I would be labeled a "rock star" is creating a shared interest in and felt need for building a "connected community"; by underscoring the importance of people being collaborative, friendly and non-judgmental.

Q: What is one of the biggest challenges you face on the job and what do you do to overcome this challenge?

A: The one biggest challenge I often find is staying narrowly focused on one deliverable, because I inevitably find opportunities to connect that deliverable to other deliverables, since I am always hoping to see more creative and bold outcomes. I often overcome this challenge by creating a visual reminder of what a desired outcome would look like.

Q: Tell us about something new or exciting in your professional life. 

A: The most exciting thing for me professionally, is seeing how my exposure to youth culture (at A&F) both influenced and encouraged me to write FITCH PATH.

Q: What is your philosophy on work/life balance? What do you like to do in your free time to stay balanced?

A: Work hard and play all of the time, is my philosophy on work/life balance. In my spare time, I channel surf between the political talk shows and the food network.

Q: What is the best way to network with you (LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+)?

A: The best way to network with me is  via LinkedIn.

Q: What is the best word of advice that you’ve ever received and do you have any advice for current grad students?

A: The best advice I was ever given and would pass along to current grad students is "it's better to ask for forgiveness rather than permission"

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