I currently work as an Area Manager in the North East of England. I lead a team of 19 shop managers and their 300 shop colleagues to deliver the retail plan. Most of my time is spent in shops supporting and coaching colleagues to improve our service to customers and deliver an outstanding customer experience.
I started working in Redcar when I was 18. Within nine months I was a Technical Manager at Middlesbrough and at 21 I was promoted to my first Shop Manager position at Sunderland. For the next 20 years I managed and opened 10 shops across the North East and North Yorkshire moving house three times.
In 2009 I was approached by my Area Manager with an opportunity to complete a FoundationDegree in Retail at Manchester Metropolitan University. It was a fantastic experience being a mature student and learning about the wider retail environment. Before graduating in 2012 I worked on the WeFit project at the Support Centre. As well as being a success, the project was a great networking opportunity and gave me field experience.
Towards the end of my WeFit Project Manager secondment I was seconded to Area Manager in the North West and after a year in Manchester/Liverpool the secondment continued in Cumbria/Lancashire. After a successful 18 months on secondment, I was permanently appointed and led The Hurricanes for a further two years. I am now ‘back home’ in the North East with a little less travelling and a better understanding of local accents!
The People! I have had the privilege of working with a fantastic bunch of hard working, enthusiastic and committed colleagues since day one of joining the business. Many people believe that if you cut me I would bleed orange blood and that may be true but I’ve worked with lots of colleagues over the last 30 years that would happily give me a transfusion of the same blood type!
There has been such a lot to be proud of since joining Halfords. My first Manager role at Sunderland, graduating in Manchester and attending Oxford Summer School. However if you were to measure pride with emotion it would have to be when I received the phone call from my Divisional Director to tell me I was now the ‘permanent’ Area Manager of The Hurricanes. I was driving at the time and my Director says if he had the benefit of hindsight he would now tell me whilst I was sat down in a soundproof room!
I’m really enjoying being back in the North East at the moment but in this role you can’t stand still, retail is a fast moving business and you must stay ahead of the competition. Last summer, my boss asked if I’d like to attend a week-long summer school at Oxford University. I met others from retail businesses, attended lectures from great leaders and worked on some fantastic projects. It was hard work but enjoyable and I’m so grateful to Halfords for investing in my career.
Maybe after five years of success in the North East, I may want to lead another strategic project in another function. Wherever and whatever I am doing, I’m sure it will be challenging and enjoyable, it always is at Halfords.