00:00:04 My name is Helen W. I’m the Assistant to the General Manager at John Lewis in Oxford Street. My job involves assisting the General Manager in any projects and also day to day things that crop up. I really like the fact that every day is different. That’s that I like, that I can come in and be given a different project and that I can really get my teeth into it. I’m left to get on with it, so I’m given the brief and they trust me to know when I need to go back to them. And that’s what I enjoy, you know, the trust and the varied life that it is.
00:00:41 I was quite a quiet, shy child at school, and didn’t really push myself forward. I did go to the sixth form for one year to re-sit some of my exams, but I wasn’t really an academic and I didn’t really want to go any further in my studies. The subjects I liked were English and business, and so my career’s officer suggested that I went into retailing because that was the type of thing that I was interested in, and also John Lewis offered a training programme that you could do a qualification while you actually worked, as well. That was a business qualification and I did that one day a week at college. You know, that pushed me into working for John Lewis really.
00:01:23 There was one thing in my career that really helped me gain some confidence, and I went to an outward bound course for two weeks, and I was only nineteen, so I was quite young, and you had to go on an outward bound course with people that you didn’t know, and that was really daunting for someone of that age. I was still gaining my confidence at that point. But to go away on that course was really brilliant and I really gained a lot of confidence, and I would advise anybody who was offered something like that, I would say go for it.
00:01:57 I joined John Lewis as a trainee and I was a clerk, a stock clerk, doing invoicing and paperwork and things like that, but I wanted to get promoted. I wanted to be s section manager, so I made myself busy helping out, cashing up, pushing myself forward, and then I got recommended to be a section manager, and applied for a job and got it.
00:02:18 My last boss, I really admired her because she was really quick witted. That’s something I’m not. I have to think about things, and I admire people who can really grasp the situation straightaway and make split decisions that are usually really good. So I really admired her and I tried to aspire to be like that a bit more.
00:02:41 My family life is very important, and I would put that first, and I have put that first before my career. I’m happy at the point that I am. I know that I could have gone further if I’d have wanted to, but I think something has to give, and I didn’t want that to be at the expense of my children.
00:03:02 John Lewis has something called the Golden Jubilee Trust. When it was their Golden Jubilee, they put aside a certain amount of money in a fund and the interest from that fund pays for partners to go off and do charitable works. I went and worked at Orbis, which is a charity that supports the Flying Eye Hospital, and they will go to places like Ethiopia, and they will land, and they’ll do operations on people that need cataracts and various different eye options and give them back their sight. I worked at their offices in Islington, helping with fundraising, and it’s just a fantastic opportunity. John Lewis paid me for the six months to go and do that.
00:03:43 In five year’s time, I see myself on a beach with a cocktail because I hopefully will be on my six months paid leave that John Lewis give you after you’ve been her for twenty-five years. If you’d have told me when I was at school that I was going to work for somewhere for twenty-five years I would be absolutely appalled because it sounds really awful. It sounds like you’re doing the same job for twenty-five years, which I haven’t been. I have done, you know, lots of varied roles. Although I’ve been in one place and worked for one organisation, I’ve had a multitude of opportunities.