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How I got here - Elizabeth Sharp

The ladies merchandiser needed persistence and a head for business to land her dream job at H&M.

What does your diary look like today?

Busy from the moment I arrive, with meetings and allocations of the new collection. It’s not your typical office job. However, it’s great fun working closely with our products, especially on womenswear.

What meeting are you most looking forward to today?

The autumn 13 planning is an exciting process. We are looking so far ahead into the season even though it’s sunny outside.

What task do you wish you could postpone?

It’s my responsibility to update the stores on stock levels and selling opportunities, so it’s important that I’m out visiting the shops and checking on their progress. And since I’ve been visiting stores I need to catch up with
my emails from the team here as well as in Sweden.

How did you get to where you are today?

I knew this was the brand for me once I joined. The nature of H&M encourages constant improvement and progression. There isn’t a huge hierarchy like other brands, so you feel you can get to the position you want to be in.

What has been your career highlight?

When I got the job in the merchandising team I knew it was my dream role. I had interviewed a number of times and been unsuccessful, but stayed to gain the skills I needed. When I was asked to take over as ladies merchandiser last year, it was my biggest achievement.

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

I would have been more open to the different paths when I was studying. Perhaps I would have taken the time at university for a more creative skill like a language.

Who is your mentor?

Lars Axelsson (former sales controller at H&M, now sales manager at & Other Stories).

What was the best piece of advice he’s given you?

Be patient. It’s essential to be driven in this kind of role, but you have greater effect if you take enough time in each position to learn the role.

How do you see your career progressing?

Once I achieve my goals as ladies merchandiser I would love to lead a team in the future. I’m open to travelling globally to gain perspective, and with 49 H&M markets there is plenty of opportunity.

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

It’s been a real benefit to have started working in the stores, because I understand the whole supply chain process.
A business mind is also a must and you need to enjoy a fast working pace in the office.

If you could work in another area of fashion, what would it be?

Before I specialised in law and business my main interest was English. Writing about fashion brands and trend directions for a monthly title would be an exciting side of the fashion industry.

  • Salaries for this type of position normally range from £35,000 to £55,000 (estimate provided by Michael Page)

CV

2012 Ladies merchandiser, UK & Ireland, H&M
2010 Childrenswear merchandiser, UK & Ireland, H&M
2008 Area controller trainee, Essex, Kent and East Anglia, H&M
2008 Graduated Legal Practice Course, College of Law, London Bloomsbury
2007 Ladieswear department manager, H&M, Brighton
2006 Graduated Law with Business BA Hons, University of Brighton
2002 Sales adviser, H&M

  • If you want to be featured on the Drapers Jobs page, email james.knowles@emap.com

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