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How I got here, Selina Chan

Timberland’s menswear product manager says her role combines creative flair with a head for numbers.

What does your diary look like today?

At the moment it’s quite an exciting time [at outdoor brand Timberland] because we’re in early development stages for the spring 14 line, and we’re also preparing to take the [autumn] 13 collection to market. So we’re working on two seasons at the moment. On most days I’ll sit with my design team and I’ll review the designs they’ve pulled together against my brief to make sure spring 14 is heading in the right direction. We’re also colouring up the line, looking at how we’d apply colour to each sketch and how it would flow throughout the season.

What task are you most looking forward to today?

Reviewing the fabric selection that has been proposed for the designs. It brings everything a bit more to life when you start putting the pieces of the puzzle together.

What task do you wish you could postpone?

This afternoon I have a date with a massive spreadsheet. A big part of the job is numbers based, so I’ve got a huge piece of analysis to complete and it’s quite complex. It’s necessary but not the most enjoyable task.

How did you get to where you are today?

I was fortunate to start my career at one of the biggest luxury brands – Burberry.

I had some fantastic experience and a really strong professional work ethic drummed into me. However, I also had a fairly clear vision of how I wanted to progress. I love my job and always have. I think that passion has got me to where I am today.

What has been your career highlight?

Travelling the world. With my current role I’ve travelled to Tokyo, to Hong Kong, to Taipei, to New York, everywhere in Europe – all the places I dreamed of visiting when I was younger. It’s amazing to do that as part of your job. 

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

It’d have to be to have learnt to speak Chinese.

I’m half-Chinese, my father is from Hong Kong and my mum is English, and I wish it had been something I’d done when I was younger. The economy is booming in the Far East and I’m interested in the culture and fashion industry out there. It’d have been such an amazing asset to have, though it’s never too late.

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

Sometimes if you try to do things faster it takes longer.

How do you see your career progressing?

I’m very happy at Timberland and would like to progress here. It’s got such a strong corporate social responsibility ethic and commitment to producing sustainable and stylish product. However, I’d perhaps like to explore international opportunities as well.

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

It’s not a 9am to 5pm business. So if you’re interested in doing it then you need to be passionate and it needs to almost become part of your daily life. I’d also say in terms of my role it’s about making an informed judgement about balancing the creative aspect with the science.

  • Salaries for this position range from £45,000 to £50,000 (estimate by Bloom Retail)

CV

2009 Menswear product manager, Timberland

2008 Menswear associate product manager, Timberland

2007 Menswear assistant product manager, Timberland

2007 Menswear global sourcing co-ordinator worldwide, Burberry

2006 Menswear junior buyer (wholesale) worldwide, Burberry

2005 Menswear merchandising and buying assistant (retail) Europe, Burberry

2005 BA (Hons) Management Studies, Leeds University

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