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Servant Leaders in Action: Business

Outstanding Customer Service

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Julie Kuns (BA '81) is currently serving as the Regional Vice President for Nordstrom in Orange County and has been associated with the company for the past 22 years. She is responsible for the results and service experience in the Orange County area and Inland Empire Stores. After graduating from Hope in 1981, Kuns taught elementary school in Camarillo, CA for two years. Her change of career came after she ran into an old college friend, Steve Hunter (BA '81), at Nordstrom. He encouraged her to apply for a job at the store and she accepted the invitation.

Kuns began as a sales associate in the Woodland Hills store and worked her way up to a department manager position within a year. After another two years as department manager, Kuns was promoted again into the buying office. This promotion was of particular importance to her as it brought a wealth of new knowledge and experience. Not only was Kuns able to gain field experience as a buyer in New York, but she also had the opportunity to work in Europe as well. Four years later, Kuns was promoted yet again to the position of store manager. Her first assignment as a store manager was to open the Nordstrom in Santa Barbara. Eventually, her career brought her back to the Orange County area where she became the manager of the South Coast Plaza store. After four years in this location, she was promoted again to the regional position where she has been serving for over six years.

When asked how Hope prepared her for her career, Kuns says that the experience she gained while attending college was invaluable and prepared her for what she deals with in her field today. Hope offered many opportunities for her to explore her leadership abilities, including serving on campus as a Residence Assistant as well as singing and touring with fellow students in a musical outreach group. One of her most memorable professors was Gary Tiffin, who loved to challenge his students to explore and to think outside of the box. Kuns had the unique opportunity to travel to Europe with Tiffin and several other students, thus gaining invaluable experience that has helped her throughout life and in her career today.

Kuns believes that because of Hope's emphasis on servant-leadership, these opportunities gave her the experience she needed to launch into the business world and was prepared to fit right into the Nordstrom mentality. "Nordstrom is a company that often speaks of 'servant leadership' and truly believes that it is the role of each leader to support and serve the efforts of the front line employees," says Kuns. "It is humbling to see the impact you have as a leader. I feel privileged to support my team and create an environment that is fair and ethical."