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How I got here - Dean Cowgill

Schuh’s southern divisional manager looks back on his 18 years at the footwear retailer.

What does your diary look like today?

The first job of the day is always to check the sales figures and emails, and then it’s on the road to one of my stores to pay a visit. Today is Swansea.

The morning consists of a catch-up with the team, then the store manager, having looked over operational standards and discussed service standards and objectives. I’ll also be speaking on the phone to other stores in the region and to regional managers to discuss a whole range of topics, from broadband issues to vacancies. In the afternoon I’ll conduct an appraisal on a store manager, check a few more emails and the current day’s figures, and then I’ll be on the road once again - this time to the airport, to catch a flight to head office ahead of our monthly retail operations meeting.

What event are you most looking forward to today?

I always look forward to appraisals. This is because it’s great to spend quality time with one of your store’s managers, discussing their needs and successes and setting their development objectives for the year ahead.

What event do you wish you could postpone?

If I could postpone any event today then it would have to be going to the airport - airports drive me crazy.

How did you get to where you are today?

I joined Schuh 18 years ago as a trainee manager and within less than a year I had my own store in Leicester. As the business grew, so did the opportunities and after 10 years and as many stores, I was promoted to regional manager, a post I held for six years. Then towards the end of last year I was promoted to southern division manager.

What has been your career highlight?

There are many, but my recent promotion is by far the biggest career highlight so far. It’s a huge responsibility and requires a great deal of travel, but it is also an opportunity to play an active role in the development of the wider store operations, our customer service proposition and the development of our people, all of which have been key elements in our success.

If you could change one thing about your career path, what would it be?

I honestly wouldn’t change anything about my career path so far. I feel you become who you are through the experiences you have.

What’s the best piece of advice they’ve given you?

One of the best pieces of advice was ‘In business if you stand still you go backwards’. I believe that’s a great philosophy, as it demands you question what you are doing and whether there is a better way.

How do you see your career progressing?

My priority is to be the best divisional manager I can be and to make a meaningful contribution to the business. The rest will take care of itself.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

There are no shortcuts. This job requires a lot of commitment and hard work, but it is extremely rewarding to be involved in the growth of a great business that invests in its people and is passionate about the product and service it offers.

  • Salaries for this position range from £70,000 to £80,000, depending on the size of the business (estimate by CVUK)


2012 Divisional manager, Schuh

2006 Regional manager, Schuh

1995 Store manager, Schuh

1995 Trainee manager, Schuh

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