Around 11 years ago, I was making my first steps with Clarks, finding my feet as Assistant Manager of our Lincoln store. I'd always worked in retail but I was drawn to Clarks because of its huge presence on the high street and of course, its history.
From Lincoln to London, opportunities arose to manage bigger stores and get more experience under my belt. It was no easy ride though: the pace was fast and there were always targets to meet. But I soon realised if you work hard and contribute to Clarks, the opportunities are there for the taking.
A whole new path opened up for me when I mentioned to my line manager that I was interested in working at Head Office. I didn't even know if it was achievable at this point – when you're working in store, Head Office seems like this mythical place far, far away. I had no idea that my skills would even be relevant there but my line manager was really supportive, she thought I'd be a great match for the role of Trading Planner. Before I knew it, I was making the move.
I'd actually never really thought about the processes that the shoes go through before they arrive in store so it was an exciting eye-opener. The range review aspect really grabbed my interest and sparked my inspiration to step into Product: it's where we sit down with all the stakeholders across the world and get their feedback on the range. After working on a side project for the Men's Product team, I had the confidence and experience to apply for a Junior Range Manager role. I've never looked back, it's such a supportive team and I've had lots of training and including a British Footwear Association Foundation course.
Right now, I'm working on our Spring/Summer 2014 range for various regions around the world. One day, I'll be reviewing what worked last year and updating styles, another I'll be evaluating materials in line with margin and the next, I could be standing up and presenting the range. To this day, I still find it incredible that working in Street, I can have a huge impact on footwear that might eventually be worn by a child in, say, South America. What next? Well, I definitely don't plan on moving away from Product – I'm working towards Range Manager and then hopefully, Senior Manager then who knows!
Paul, Junior Range Manager