The truth is, I landed into Retail a little by accident. I grew up in a rural part of the country where most of the adults I knew worked in teaching, the NHS, hospitality or farming. “Business” was a family plumbing business or local pub. I did a degree in history and politics because I was passionate about the subjects… I hadn’t given much thought to a career afterwards.
In my 3rd year suddenly thoughts of loan repayments and life after uni meant a career came closer in to focus.
Trawling through the “graduate scheme prospectus” I came to the Retail Graduate Trading Schemes, and I thought, “Supermarkets I know, shopping (buying), I can do.” I was very fortunate to land one, and I have never looked back.
I arrived in an assistant role in General Merchandise, after 3 months of grafting (and let there be no mistake… store roles are graft!) in store getting close to the heart of the business. 13 years later, I have worked across buying, category Planning, supply chain and operations in store and in E-commerce, managing categories across GM, fresh, chilled, frozen, health and beauty. Through a variety of roles I have understood supply chains end to end, travelled extensively, met fantastic people and worked with some of the best vendor partners in the world. Never is there a dull day in retail. Would I pull out any particular trait that has helped me be successful? I have always said, why not, I’ll give it a go, and taken time to build relationships along the way.
At the heart of every great retail business is an obsession for the customer; it still feels a real privilege and buzz to deliver a step change that offers your customers a reason to shop with you. I have been incredibly lucky to lead commercial teams in creating and executing game changing strategies with our supplier partners; then pivoting my career to the store environment, facilitating world class execution with a team of 100+ colleagues. I cannot think of another sector that offers such diversity of experience.
I am now back in a commercial role, drawing on all that experience to better deliver for our customers. A career in retail gives me the opportunity to keep learning because our only constant is change, and you have to stay curious. I look forward to seeing what the next 13 years brings!