Editor’s note: In February, Best Buy is proud to honor Black History Month and celebrate the Black community. Read on for the story of one of our employees.
For assistant sales manager Gabe Hilliard, talking with his employees about their personal goals and dreams is just as much a part of the job as talking about products and sales.
“My role isn’t to make [my team] the best Best Buy person they can be, my goal is to make them the best person they can be,” he said. “I don’t want to build them for the job, I want to build them for their future.”
When he’s not at the Racine, Wisconsin store, Gabe is researching scholarships for his team members, proposing ideas to company leaders and volunteering in his community. Wherever he is, Gabe gives his all to the people around him and wants to leave each place better than he found it.
His general manager, Jon Barajas, said Gabe has established an incredible amount of trust within his team in the short time he’s been in this role.
“The impact Gabe’s making goes beyond his sales numbers,” Jon said. “He’s helping shape the next generation of leaders.”
Finding opportunities for growth
Developing young leaders is just one of the ways Gabe is contributing to Best Buy’s next chapter. He’s also passionate about BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) representation in leadership.
Gabe advocates for BIPOC employee development and brings up potential roadblocks to employees feeling welcome to his leaders.
He participates in events with employee resource groups and other company leadership programs, and he recently was accepted into the McKinsey Management Accelerator program, a program to develop BIPOC leaders at Best Buy. He also encourages his employees to get involved in these opportunities to learn from others and, more importantly, find community.
“I want to break the ceiling,” he said. “Black people can do well in technology and retail sales and rise to high levels at corporate. If I don’t talk about it, I can’t change it. I try to be part of the change and the solution.”
Investing in his community
Outside of Best Buy, Gabe is active with his community, working with local social justice groups and other organizations to mentor youth. He wants to pass along lessons and values he’s learned and build up young people’s confidence, while also learning from them about their values and worldview.
“I can’t make them see the world through my lens, but I want to understand their perspective,” he said.
Additionally, Gabe is passionate about teaching youth about financial literacy and African and Black history.
“To empower someone into a future, you must know you have a past,” he said. “Black history doesn’t begin and end with slavery. There’s more to our story for our people.”
Gabe volunteers his time at the Best Buy Teen Tech Center® in Milwaukee and hopes to support the new Teen Tech Center opening in Kenosha, Wisconsin, later this year.
In Milwaukee, Gabe meets with teens to talk about career possibilities and explore the different types of technology. From his own mentee experience growing up, he knows spaces like a Teen Tech Center can make a huge impact on students.
Whether he’s working with his Best Buy team or youth in his community, Gabe wants to let the people around him know that he cares.
“Every person we impact can help us change the world,” he said.