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Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Career Guest Post; Working in Charity Retail as a Business Development Coordinator

Name: Hayley Joeann Owen


Industry: Charity Retail

Job Title: Business Development Coordinator / Area Manager

Brief description of job role and industry: 

I am a Business Development Coordinator and I am also on a year secondment of being an Area Manager. I work for a children and young adults hospice charity which is based in Oxford called Helen & Douglas House. Despite the hospice being based in Oxford, we have 37 shops over 5 surrounding counties and a retail headquarters in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. My role as a BDC is to assist the Retail team in generating income for the charity. I head up projects and events with corporate sponsors, I am the assistant buyer for new goods (handbags, homeware, ladies accessories etc) which we sell in our shops and am responsible for buying our range of Christmas cards for the charity every year. My role is extremely varied which I love. Despite being on a year secondment, I still head the above projects on the side of being an Area Manager for 10 Helen & Douglas House shops. My role now focuses upon maximising sales and profit through the shops. I manage 10 shop managers and support and work with them to ensure their shop is running smoothly and that the team are reaching set targets and working by our procedures and policies. I really enjoy working with a wide mix of people and working as a team to ensure the merchandising is up to scratch, stock processing is under control and that the shops and teams are working as effectively as possible.

An average day consists of... 

I plan my week according to the sales results of the previous week. The shops who perhaps have struggled to meet their target or who have had a quiet week will have a visit from me to discuss what we can do to drive sales and to increase profit. It may be that I need to track down more stock to fill the shop, assist with the merchandising to attract customers or work with the team to encourage motivation. Sometimes I spend an entire day in one shop working with the manager but often I try to visit 2, especially if another one of my shops is nearby. Throughout the day I am accessing emails on my phone to keep in touch with all other shops and my colleagues. I am constantly observing that my shops are following the correct procedures, that they are meeting all the legal requirements and are completing all their operational duties.

Qualifications/experience required:

I have a degree in Fashion Promotion and Communication which may not seem suited to the role I am in but there are a lot of transferable skills and having a degree shows dedication and intelligence. There is a lot of essential experience needed to become an Area Manager such as being educated to a GCSE level, having management experience, the ability to create budget plans to increase profit, having significant retail experience and much more. 

Career progression:

I have worked in retail since the age of 15. I started in Virgin Megastore as a sales assistant then moved onto Miss Selfridge to do the same role. I worked for two different Miss Selfridge stores as I transferred when I went to University.  I then had a promotion to Senior Sales for a year but resigned after leaving University. Throughout University I volunteered with Helen & Douglas House, which is how I got my foot in the door. My volunteering role was to assist the E-Commerce & Merchandising Manager with vintage festival stalls and to assist with the vintage shop the charity had in Oxford. 

After a few months I went into a role to cover shops when managers/assistant managers were away, which broadened my retail skill set. I then went on to work in the charity E-Commerce department to sell vintage and antiques online. My role was always much more than my job description as I constantly assisted with other projects within the charity as my degree gave me an amazing skill set and I wanted to further my experience. Our Retail and Warehouse office moved to Buckinghamshire, which meant I had to give up my E-Commerce role. 

However, to keep me as part of the team a Business Development role was created and I moved to Buckinghamshire to start my new role. 2 years on from becoming the Business Development Coordinator, I was then offered a secondment to be an Area Manager. I'd finally achieved my dream job, even if it was a secondment! I'd always wanted to be a part of the Area Manager team and support shops in increasing sales and to work with the teams to maintain the boutique style shops that we have. I am currently in my secondment until May 2016. 

There is the possibility that I could remain in this role but also the possibility of a restructure. Either way, having an entire years work experience in the job I want to do is incredible.
Best tip to crack the industry

Work experience and volunteering. It gives you the best experience you could ask for as it opens up doors and gets you noticed. I may not have necessarily had a shot at any or all of the jobs within the charity before volunteering but I had shown what I could do and had been a part of many projects within the charity, which really added to my CV. If it wasn't for volunteering, I'd not have the job I have now. 

Best thing about my job

The teams I manage and the fact I work for such a great cause. I get to work with such interesting people daily and am a part of the 10 small teams that are in each shop, who all work together to create 1 huge team who bring in over a quarter of a million pounds for the two hospice houses yearly. I enjoy knowing my hard work isn't going into a mainstream company but is going into a charity that helps children and young adults with life shortening conditions. What a reason to wake up every morning.

Worst thing about my job

I'm not sure if I have a worst part of my job, but there are definitely two hard parts. First part is managing people. I think any job that involves managing people can be difficult. At first when I took on my secondment, my age seemed to be a concern to people. However, after a couple of weeks my age became just a number because I proved I had the capability to do the job well. The second hardest part of my job can be the long hours. Balancing two job roles, one of which has 10 people to manage, can sometimes be very demanding on my time. The good thing is I know having two roles isn't permanent and with it being such good experience for me, I cannot complain. I'm proud that I've been entrusted with an Area Managers role at the age of 23, and this has mostly been down to hard work and dedication, with a little good luck along the way. 


1 comment

  1. I love this series. It's so interesting getting to know the blogger behind the blog!

    Emily x


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