We sat down with Shayla Thomas, GSGC’s Director of Product Programs and Retail to get to know more about her and her role with GSGC.
What is your name, title, and what city do you work in?
My name is Shayla Thomas I’m the Director of Product Programs and Retail and I work in Jacksonville.
What is your favorite Girl Scout Cookie?
I love Do-Si-Dos for breakfast with a little bit of coffee, but if I had to pick just one, it’d be Thin Mints (frozen, of course).
Tell me something about yourself.
I’m very outdoors-y, people don’t necessarily know that. I love to camp; I love to hike. Until I broke my leg, I loved to go up the waterfalls, not so much anymore.
You broke your leg? What happened?
I was camping in Alabama and wearing flip-flops at camp. (This was personal camp, not Girl Scout Camp!) It was pouring down rain and I slipped the mud and broke my leg.
I’m like bionic woman from my mid-calf to my foot, they had to rebuild the whole thing. All together the recovery was well over 6-7 months, and I’ve never really gotten over the fear of falling when it’s wet outside.
So, here’s the cool thing about this though: I finished out my week of camping. We had only just arrived, and we were scheduled for a week. I was in a tent but after I broke my leg I moved to a relative’s RV. My brothers and cousins would come and help me get from the RV to the campfire. I didn’t want to waste the week.
Did you go to the doctor, or…
No, no, no I went to the ER. They wrapped me up, gave me medication, and then I went back to camp. It was once a year, and the family was all there. The doctors couldn’t do anything until the swelling went down, so I thought I might as well stay and camp.
Now I use that story to illustrate to my Girl Scouts why flip-flops aren’t allowed at camp!
Let’s talk about your role at GSGC. What do you do?
I work with my team to bring the Cookie Program and the Fall Product Program to our members and give them all the tools they need to be successful. On the retail side, my team manages the online store.
When it comes down to it, 90% of my job is managing the Product Programs. A big part of that involves predicting how much product members will need for their businesses. I use membership information, participation statistics, and other historical data to forecast how much product to order from our suppliers.
Another one of my product program responsibilities is training – getting the community product managers, staff, volunteers, troop product managers, and more trained and prepared for cookie season. There’s so much training that goes into it because every season is a little bit different. Things change; what we did last year we may not do next year.
That’s crazy! You’re part fortune teller, part accountant…
Part teacher! Yeah, just a little bit of everything.
What’s your “Why”?
When my daughter came home in first grade and wanted to be a Girl Scout, I said “Nah, let’s not do that…” She begged, and so I went to a parent meeting and came out of the parent meeting as a troop leader. I’m still not sure how that happened. (Which is kind of how it goes with Girl Scouts). I was terrified. I had no idea what I had just signed myself up for, how it even happened, but it changed my life. It was the best thing I ever did!
It was amazing watching the girls grow from first grade to where they are now (they’re Seniors). The relationships that they developed; the things they were scared to try, but they felt comfortable enough in our setting to try; all the things that we wouldn’t have gotten to experience if it wasn’t for Girl Scouts. Not to mention the friendships that I made with parents that were in my troop. We became a Girl Scout Family. It was life-changing for me and for my daughter.
I got the job with Gateway and now, even 6 years later, the best part is still seeing the girls reap the benefits of whatever they’re doing. On the retail side, you feel like a teacher, seeing the girls get their first uniforms and see the badges for the first time. You get to spread a mission that’s worthwhile and that we need in the world.
With the cookie program, it’s carried on in a different way. The cookie program is all about building confidence, getting out there, and not being afraid to talk to strangers. We’re building entrepreneurs by helping the girls learn their business sense.
I’ve experienced every part of it from parent to troop leader to staff member. It’s a worthwhile mission. So that’s my why – the girls.