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Drapers Next Gen: Make every career move about what you can learn

James Knowles

We all want to progress quickly and the offer of a more senior job title or a plumper pay packet can be all too tempting. But think longer term and before you jump ship, ask yourself how each new role will develop your skills and open new doors.

This was the clear message at Drapers Next Generation careers and networking conference, which was held on April 14 at London’s 30 Euston Square. There, a 300-strong audience of mainly first, second and third jobbers heard from a selection of the fashion industry’s leaders about how they progressed their careers. The annual event was held in association with Matalan, and sponsored by Arcadia, Topshop, Topman, Coast, Oasis and Warehouse.

The White Company’s clothing director Barbara Horspool started out with her own brand, Blanche, in the 1980s, but went on to work for some of the high street’s biggest businesses, from Marks & Spencer, to Dorothy Perkins, Esprit and Jigsaw. She encouraged people to move around and gain experience, adding it “shouldn’t be for money – it should always be about your career.”

This was echoed by Asos womenswear director Nikki Tattersall, who encouraged the audience to gain varied experience, adding that at the pureplay those rising through the ranks have often worked at early-stage start-ups. Similarly, Jigsaw boss Peter Ruis told the audience how he has moved from big retailers to medium sized businesses in order to gain a breath of experience.

Our 30 under 30 panel advised that one of the core skills required in any role is communication. Overall, taking a longer term view of your career - as the speakers at Drapers Next Generation have done - will make you a more desirable candidate than those with a narrower focus and ultimately pay off in the future.

The eighth edition of Drapers Next Generation will return in April 2017. Applications for 30 under 30 will open in September and the much-anticipated list will be published on January 6.

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