After York College, grad goes global with QVC
From the classrooms of a small college to the boardrooms of a large, international company, Andre Bokhoor finds a constant. “You work with a team, count on other people, learn others’ strengths and weaknesses,” he says. “These are lessons you carry forward in everything in life. You aren’t explicitly taught, but you learn them organically.”
Andre feels he got a more hands-on opportunity to learn these lessons at a smaller school, with more personal attention from professors he still remembers today. He translated these skills to his career from York County companies to companies selling products across the globe.
Expanding the scope of education
Calling himself a business leader in an HR job, Andre earned his undergraduate degree in Business Management, with a minor in Human Resource Management, in 2005. He believes his range of classes helped prepare him for his varied career. “I got value out of my economics class, finance class, and leadership and organizational/business classes,” he says, ticking off a list of professors who made lasting impressions. “Chris Meisenhelter for Operations Management and Leadership, Dr. Mary Meisenhelter for HR Management, Dave Greisler for Business Strategy, and Dr. James Forjan for Finance.”
He believes all these business classes were crucial because he didn’t know precisely what he wanted to do during or immediately after college. An outside the classroom opportunity also helped. “I did an internship in an HR department, and that clarified that I had an interest in HR,” Andre recalls.
He thinks the close alignment York College has with the area business community helps students develop connections, noting he worked with Harley-Davidson to learn business strategy and operations management and also worked with Shipley Energy right up until graduation.
“I then landed my first job with Graham Packaging, as an HR administrator,” he says. “During my five years with Graham, I had a number of different roles, between corporate and manufacturing, and ultimately worked up to have responsibility for a number of locations in the U.S.”
Learning continues on the job
After Graham Packaging, Andre moved to an international food company in HR, before landing with QVC, now part of Qurate Retail Group, eight years ago. “I started as a senior manager responsible for distribution and fulfillment centers, then was promoted to HR Business Director for all of QVC’s U.S. operations,” he says. “As QVC continued to expand globally, I had the opportunity to become Director of Operations for not only the U.S., but for all of QVC’s global locations including Japan, Germany, the U.K. and Italy.”
Through a series of acquisitions, Qurate Retail Group now includes HSN®, Zulily ®, Ballard Designs ®, Frontgate ®, Garnet Hill ®, Grandin Road ®, and Ryllace™. He now serves as Vice President of Team Member Experience and People Portfolio. “This involves leadership, development, and coaching,” Andre says. “I have had the opportunity to contribute and lead in every part of our HR department and deeply understand how all areas of HR have to come together to drive a business forward,” he says, bringing his business management and HR education together again.
Bringing the textbook to life
Andre says he’s learned a lot about business finances, while also learning the basics of HR and why it’s important from a textbook perspective. “I was able to bring this to life in the business world,” he says. “I understand the broader perspective of the business and understand how HR impacts the business.”
Andre also earned an MBA at York College in 2007. Though it sounds paradoxical, he thinks learning at a smaller school has benefited him in big business. “I think I was pushed harder and more personally for what I needed as an individual in a smaller environment. This helped me learn and be accountable, to build the muscles that you use in a big company,” he says.
While working in teams in college helped Andre understand others’ strengths and weaknesses, it also developed his own accountability and strengths, skills he now uses every day. Not just for himself, but for all those who work with him to close sales for all those companies, all around the world.