Faces in the Crowd: Ted Harris, senior general manager of The Woodlands Mall
Ted Harris is a born and raised Texan who has parlayed his bachelor’s degree in retail management from the University of Texas into a three-decade career in mall management across the United States. Now in his second year at the helm of The Woodlands Mall as senior general manager, Harris said his keys to success have been simple, but effective during his rise up the corporate ladder.
“I started college off as a math major, and through a couple of turns of events, I changed my major. It wasn’t because math was too difficult, it was just a turn of events,” Harris said with a chuckle. “I’ve been doing (mall management) since 1989.”
Harris said his first job in retail was working at the renowed Sackowicz store before embarking on a 30-year career that has taken him and his family to big cities such as New Orleans, Dallas and Omaha, Nebraska. Harris has been married for 24 years; his wife, Wendy, is a local veterinarian, and the couple has two daughters — one is a senior in high school and the other is a senior in college. An avid Longhorns fan, Harris said he is passionate about rifle and pistol target shooting in his spare time.
“I grew up in Waxahachie, Texas. I went to the University of Texas and my first job out of college was Sackowicz Department Store…that was 1989,” Harris said. “Some of the big changes, now with retail, customers are considerably more savvy. There are very much in tune about what they want. In the past, retailers put things out and people bought it. Today, customers influence retailers more and we give customers what they want.”
Harris, who is African-American, said everyone has struggles in their career and his advice for anyone, regardless of race, is to battle through adversity and chase their dreams.
“I think everyone is going to have struggles in their career. Struggles are going to be very subjective. I can’t say that the struggles I went through are the struggles other people go through. You’re going to struggle, you’re going to have to fight through adversity, whatever it may be. But, if you belive in yourself and take advantage of the situations presented in front of you, there is a good possibility you can find success,” Harris explained. “Thirty years has passed, things have changed — I am not saying things are completely different, there is always going to be work to do. For anyone in general, I believe it is belief in yourself, a lot of hard work, a lot of flexibility, a lot of understanding of that times may get hard and you need to get hard to deal with those times to get through it.”
Harris said his love of his job at The Woodlands Mall boils down to one primary thing: the people in the community.
“On a day-to-day basis, and this is almost going to sound like a cliche, but it is actually dealing with the people,” Harris said. “I’ve lived in Dallas, Omaha…worked in different parts of Houston. It is the people here, ultimately the people here really make it great. I also really, really enjoy The Woodlands. This is the first community that I’ve lived in that has really has just a true sense of pride. They are very happy and proud to be in (The Woodlands) and you see it in the area. I really enjoy that. This place has been fabulous.”