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Meet 2016 Forward under 40 Award recipient Leslie Anderson ’04

Campus experiences helped to form Anderson’s recruiting strategies for the last fifteen years.

February 29, 2016

UW Major: English
Age: 34 | Lafayette, California
Vice President of Human Resources at Athleta

As the daughter of a UW-Madison genetics professor, Badger loyalty was part of Leslie Anderson’s DNA. Through a connection at the university, she got her start in human resources during her last few years on campus when she secured a part-time role at the Madison Marshall Field’s store. In her position, she recruited strong candidates with the potential to develop careers in retail and partnered with university job-placement centers to lead free workshops for students who were interested in improving their résumés and interviewing skills.

“Those experiences have shaped my talent strategies for the past fifteen years,” she says. “Each day, I approach my work with the values I learned at the UW: have meaning and purpose in all that you do, view challenges as opportunities to learn, and always give back.”

In 2011, Anderson joined San Francisco– based Gap, where she held several roles before being named vice president of human resources for the Gap-owned brand Athleta in January 2016. Her responsibilities include supporting more than fifty thousand employees in some one thousand stores worldwide.

“Each day, I approach my work with the values I learned at the UW: have meaning and purpose in all that you do, view challenges as opportunities to learn, and always give back.”

Anderson remains passionate about mentoring the leaders of tomorrow. As a member of the board of the Boys and Girls Club of Oakland, California, she appreciates the importance of community service. In 2015, she was named Retail Innovator of the Year and was invited to the White House to participate in the Upskilling America movement, which brings together business, nonprofit, academic, and labor groups to help improve opportunities for American workers. During this visit, Vice President Joe Biden also recognized Anderson for her work with the Silicon Valley company LearnUp, which provides free, online interactive-skills development for people seeking employment at local Old Navy stores.

“I was inspired to not only make a difference for the people I support in my HR role, but also directly in my community,” she says. “These aspiring professionals will one day apply for their first job — their first job to become tomorrow’s leaders.”

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