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How I got here - Joanna Williams

The general manager of White Stuff’s Cheltenham shop on being challenged and learning from mistakes.

What does your diary look like today?

My area manager is visiting, so we’ll do a sale walkthrough, then sit down for my appraisal. That will be followed by a team brief, and then Olympic planning with [the] Islington and Spitalfields [branches].

What meeting are you most looking forward to today?

My appraisal.

What task do you wish you could postpone?

I have some expenses to do.

How did you get to where you are today?

I joined Warehouse in 1999 as a part-time sales adviser, while studying for my A-levels.

In 2004, I moved to London and became a deputy manager at the [Oxford Street shopping centre] Plaza store, and went on to manage several shops. In 2011, I left Warehouse for New Look, before relocating to Cheltenham to work for White Stuff.

What has been your career highlight?

In 2009, my regional manager asked me to relocate to Cardiff to support the new store opening. I spent six months there and it taught me a lot. I had flagship experience from Argyll Street and my area manager felt I could develop the staff to flagship standard. I was involved in all of the training and had some great successes there. We took £30,000 in the first two days.

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

Managing the Bluewater Store for Warehouse. At the time I didn’t feel I was ready for the role.

Who is your mentor?

My area manager, Cecelia Tang. Without her I don’t think my move to Cheltenham would have been as smooth. Cecelia challenges me but also gives me guidance when I’m unsure of something. She has had the biggest influence on my working life and I owe a lot to her for that.

What’s the best piece of advice she’s given you?

An equation that she taught me: event + response = outcome.

This is so true. It is all about how I communicate and lead my team and this gives me the outcome I need. The second would be arming my team with the tools they need to succeed. You can’t do anything without your team firmly behind you.

How do you see your career progressing?

I would like to become a strong retail manager that supports my area manager at an area level, and at some point an area manager.

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

Don’t take criticism personally and learn from your mistakes.

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

I would love to work in retail operations. You see one side being in a shop but I would like to see the other side of things.

Salaries for this position range from £30,000 to £38,000 (estimate provided by CVUK)


2011 General manager, White Stuff, Cheltenham

2011 Deputy store manager, New Look

2010 Manager, Warehouse, Argyll Street, London

2009 Manager, Warehouse, Cardiff (six-month secondment)

2008 Store manager, Warehouse, Bluewater

2006 Store manager, Warehouse, Canary Wharf

2004 Deputy manager, Warehouse, Oxford St Plaza

2002 Senior sales adviser, Warehouse, Bluewater

1999 Part-time sales adviser, Warehouse


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