Which aspects of your job give you the most energy?
For me the most exciting part of any job is to be out there, at what we call the front line: where the magic happens. In retail, it is about being on the shopfloor, with the teams; the shop managers and also the Saturday help. Working together, not just visiting, not just looking at how things are going but really being embedded in the workplace. This also means having contact with the customers and finding ways to improve the business, commercially and operationally. At Rituals, my role was very operational, therefore ways to improve could be anything: it can be just changing a little form, routing in the store, coming up with those ideas in the store and then scaling them for the organization and getting the full benefit from it. To me, that is extremely rewarding and that gives me a lot of energy. In any job I visited the stores a lot, in perfumes and cosmetics it was about going out there, to the perfumeries, talking to the ladies on the shopfloor; what do they need?
What are the main factors that contributed to your success as a professional?
The first factor that helped me becoming successful is having different mentors. At any point in your career there will be a mentor, caring for you, mentoring you, supporting you. This person helps you to get the best out of yourself, by challenging you, by being brutally honest and by being genuinely involved by showing real heart. I had the privilege to have several good mentors, to whom I am forever grateful. People who can make you into a better person & professional.
Next to this, working hard & delivering on your promises is important. I will fight for what I think is the right way. I try to get everybody on board with that. However, there comes a point that you find out that your way is not the right way. When that happens, it is important that you can be adaptable. I do not like the colleagues who seem to be okay with any direction, that are supportive of any idea. To me, I like people with a sense for direction and stand for that. Even if the direction changes, the vision does not. The good visionary has the ability to create the right team to work on this vision. Knowledge of your own qualities and competences, and also knowledge of your own weaknesses is crucial for your success. Next to this, daring to take a calculated risk every now and then is a factor for success. Not everything will be successful, but if you do not take a risk sometimes, you will never stand out.
The last factor is kindness, the most underestimated value. Be kind to people. If you were starting your careers in the 80’s- 90’s, this might not seem as logical as it is today. Back then there was more a “bright lights big city mentality”. Hiring & firing. With maturity comes the realization that in the end, human beings, are striving for happiness. Try to make each other feel good, feel happy and be kind.