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Drapers Next Gen: 'Communication is key' says 30 under 30 panel

Learning to communicate with different people across the business is essential to grow in your role, a panel of four rising stars selected from Drapers 30 under 30 2016 told 300 aspiring fashion professionals at the Drapers Next Generation event in London today (April 14).

30 under 30

30 under 30

30 under 30: The Chapar founder and chief executive Sam Middleton, Hugo Boss retail operations manager Grace Twyman, Dorothy Perkins merchandiser Amy Atkinson and Polly King & Co head of menswear Michael Brown

“Communicating with different people across the business is crucial, as the structure of teams is changing and it’s important to adapt to different roles,” said Dorothy Perkins merchandiser Amy Atkinson. “The main thing is not to be afraid of being thrown in at the deep end. I wanted to prove I could deputise for roles above me, so I started running my own department early on and I was determined to prove I could be a success.”

This opinion was shared by Hugo Boss retail operations manager Grace Twyman, who stressed the importance of working with all the teams across the business to build communication skills: “As my job is to be the link between stores and head office, it’s important to be knowledgeable about the different aspects of the business and learn to work fast. Retail operations is sometimes understated as a career, but you are always at the centre of the business and you get the opportunity to influence what goes into stores.”

For Polly King & Co head of menswear Michael Brown, a big part of the job is learning to be strategic and build a critical path for each season that can be implemented seamlessly by a global team: “You have to make sure you deliver on time all the strategic planning behind the scenes and work hard on the crucial months of planning that create the right environment for a showroom. A salesperson shouldn’t be aggressive – they should be honest and care about the product. You need to work on something you believe in.”

Doing what you love was an opinion shared by the whole panel, especially The Chapar founder and chief executive Sam Middleton: “It is so important to do what you love and be happy to go into work on a Monday morning. My biggest success is the people I work with. I love the people in my business as they are so invested in what we do. My best advice would be to work hard and work smart, but also to be happy and feel like you’re contributing to something.”

Atkinson was in full agreement: “I was always told to do what I love and work on building relationships within the team and the wider industry. My key advice would be learn everything about your job role and widen your experience.”

For Twyman the key is not be too fixed in your thinking and to be patient: “You need to work hard and earn your stripes, and don’t ever pigeonhole yourself.”

Having the opportunity to build a fantastic team is the real achievement for Polly King’s Michael Brown: ”The most rewarding part of my job is seeing people in my team succeed and I am passionate about developing their careers. I’m also so inspired by people who think outside the box like the team at End Clothing in Newcastle. I love how they interpret fashion. I admire people who are doing things their own way and it’s important to never lose sight of what you want. Be focused and make sacrifices and get there in the end.”

The Drapers Next Generation one-day careers and networking conference was held at 30 Euston Square in London on April 14.






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