Marian Aldan-Pierce has that rare trait of being instinctively trusted. That unique capacity has served her in good stead. This month, Aldan-Pierce is celebrating 43 years with DFS Saipan.
That length of time with the company makes her grateful. “…I will be forever be saying that I have been blessed by the people I worked with all these years. My bosses have been wonderful mentors, all of whom have been supportive of me since I started,” she said.
Now president of DFS Saipan Limited Division, her remarkable journey working in the retail business since 1976 has honed her management and business skills in many ways she never thought possible. That included being the very first employee of DFS Saipan, even before its store in Garapan opened.
“I was employed by the government when I heard about a new company interviewing for several positions to open a store. It was Duty Free Shoppers Limited, a company I was not familiar with. So I decided to try my luck as I was not happy in my job at the time,” she said.
Thankfully for Aldan-Pierce, people trusted her, even from the start.
“I’ve been here since before we had stores. I was hired to be the executive secretary for the Saipan branch manager and, by Day 2, I was actually interviewing for sales associates. …I had no idea what I was getting myself into but my two bosses at the time seemed to have a lot of confidence in me and I appreciated that…” she added.
During the Trust Territory transition, Aldan-Pierce had an opportunity to work at the Office of Transition Studies and Planning.
“I actually resigned at DFS. …This would have been about a month after I had been with DFS and our general manager at the time did not want to lose me so he asked our president, who was in Guam, to fly to Saipan and talk to me, which he did.”
“It was explained that I was already in a position of trust and our general manager really did not want to lose me. After a while, he offered me an increase in salary…[and] I relented and decided to stay. Needless to say, it was the best decision I’ve ever made. …It was knowing that I was appreciated that got me,” she added.
According to Aldan-Pierce, 43 years did not go by silently because there was never a slow day at DFS.
“It was my first job in a retail company so the back-of-house activities were new to me,” she said.
At the same time, there was constant training on so many subjects—from language to product knowledge to grooming to customer service and so much more. “It was very enlightening,” she said.
“…We met people from all over the world constantly: brand representatives, merchants, IT folks, corporate folks and many others… DFS is ever-changing and constantly evolving. No two days are the same,” she added.
The ’70s and ‘80s were a transformative time for women and work and Aldan-Pierce was up to the challenge. “The great thing about DFS then and now is that your gender does not play a part in what you are or what you could be. Once you have shown that you can do a job and have the passion for it, you could be whatever you want to be,” Aldan-Pierce said.
“… One of our corporate goals in deference to all the women at DFS is to have a 50-50 split in our management levels and I am happy to say that, [on] Saipan, we have met that goal.
She assured that employee benefits at DFS are second to none.
“Since we opened in 1976, all our employees receive benefits that were and are given only to management in other companies. This includes retirement plan, insurance (life, medical/dental, accidental, educational assistance, vacation, sick leave, discounts, appropriate skills training for your job, and so many more,” she added.
As president of the company, Aldan-Pierce is expected to trumpet the benefits of being a DFS employee but she pointed out that it’s not only about taking care of executives but also the rank-and-file.
“No other company did as much for its employees as DFS did,” she said.
That was evident when the CNMI was hit by Super Typhoon Yutu in 2018 and with Typhoon Soudelor in 2015.
“The company cares for us all the time and they go beyond any expectations. …The cash outlay, our own laundromat, daily drinking water, hot showers, they brought in $25,000 worth of heavy-duty tarps for our employees so they could cover their roofless homes, and our time-for-sharing policy (usually for serious illness) was changed to allow for natural disasters,” she said.
Aldan-Pierce said she is always inspired by how she sees her company. “DFS is a company with a heart as it cares about its human resources and about the community it does business in. When we take on a project or get involved in a cause, it always has been because, whatever it may be at that moment, it will positively impact our community as a whole” she said.
Her advice to newcomers? “Never let it be about the money. Let it be about the people you have to work with. Ask the question: Do you feel empowered, respected, trusted, appreciated? Appropriate compensation and accolades will fall in place sooner rather than later.”
Her plans for the future includes retirement—”it is just a matter of when. I still love my job and enjoy going to work every day.”
In the meantime, her job allows her to engage is one of her many passions—recreational biking. “I will be on my way to Holland in late May to do my third tour with a company out of New York—all fun-loving, professional women ages ranging from 30s and 70s.”