0.03 My name is Olivia H and I am the International Operations Manager for Arcadia Group in the UK. One of the things that I have to do a lot in my job is to look at new stores that we have in markets with franchise partners, so we might have a partner in Spain and they want to open a Top Shop store, so we will look at that and help them layout how the store should look, and send them all of the fixtures, fittings, products and materials so they can open that store.
0.38 When I was at school I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I arrived in the UK from New Zealand when I was sixteen. I was told I needed to line up my A level subjects to match my university degree, which would lead me into my final job, so I didn’t really have a clue what I wanted to do. I did A levels, and then I went to a restaurant and I worked for a year as a chef and managed the restaurant. And then I decided to do some nannying for a while, and then I decided I needed to do a business studies course, which was quite general, that would give me the opportunity to learn skills to run my own business or work for other businesses. My family were very influential. If I’m honest, what I wanted to do was be a jockey. That didn’t really wash with my parents, so they decided that business studies was far more sensible and they enrolled me in a course in London. There was a lot of tension between my parents and myself, and they talked me into doing the business studies course using a line ‘you either do the course or you go out into the world and you support yourself and make your own decisions.’
2.00 The most major event in my life was when my brother died ten years ago, and I think when you lose someone from your family or very close to you, you quickly have to reassess what your life is all about. And you hear people say ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff,’ and all of a sudden that becomes very easy to understand that a lot of the little things that can crowd your life are suddenly really not that important in the grand scheme of things.
2.32 Well, I’ve done a lot of different things since I finished my degree, and I think because I’ve been very open to change it’s meant I’ve had a lot of opportunities. Some of the roles I have done have been a purchasing officer, I’ve also worked in sales, selling commercial furniture, I’ve managed a gift basket business with a balloon shop that came with it, I also have managed tile shops for floor and wall tiling, voice radio adverts, done some television work, also went to America and worked for an American company as a visual merchandising manager, and then I ended up at Arcadia doing international operations.
3.18 One of the things I’ve achieved that I’m really proud of is the job that I had in America, where I had to create a new department of visual merchandising people. And what that meant was I was the person who led the direction of window merchandising, and I got involved in having to decide how to photograph the product, and work with marketing departments and creative departments to collectively come up with how we felt our store windows should look.
3.46 My ambitions for the future are to really have more of a balance between work and personal time, and I’ve been working really hard on making sure that I don’t take work home with me. I want to continue to work in an international environment because that’s where I have a lot of experience, and continue to work with fun people in a fashion environment.