Shopdirect

OUR PEOPLE.

OUR PEOPLE

Highly talented people, who strive to be the best they can be, every day. That’s what you’ll find at Shop Direct. People join us because they share our ambition, drive and focus on creating a world-class future to be proud of.

In return we give them the freedom to be creative, to try things out and to keep-on developing themselves and their career. We don’t place a limit on potential. We want you to surprise us, constantly, to seize the moment and make the most of every single day.

Everyone who joins us has different motivations, skills and goals. So, here are a selection of some of our people’s stories, to help give you an idea of the character and quality it takes to succeed here.

Rachel Blackledge

What brought me here… I joined EC Harris in September 2008 after graduating from Leeds Metropolitan University with a degree in Business Studies. I decided to move to Shop Direct, because I thought their journey to become a truly world class digital retailer was really inspiring and I wanted to be part of it.

I started out as… a Senior Process Improvement Analyst in Process Excellence. The induction programme gave me a great insight into Shop Direct’s strategy and a real feel for the business. Having the opportunity to visit our distribution centres brought our retail proposition to life and I even spent a day on a van delivering parcels to our customers!

Since then… I’ve progressed my career and have just been promoted to Process Improvement Manager in Process Excellence. I love the opportunities that Shop Direct has to offer. On a day-to-day basis I conduct interactive workshops with teams from across the business to understand current business processes. As a team we design improved processes that will help enhance the customer experience and make the work lives of our colleagues easier too.

The best thing about it is… being able to take away the ‘pain points’ in people’s day-to-day roles by improving business processes. The only frustration is that we can’t fix everything overnight. Process improvements take time but, once a new improvement is implemented and the benefits are felt –nothing beats a feeling knowing that you have made a difference.

And, I’ve got solid plans for my future too… I’d like to lead my own team within the next two years. I’ve already led a small working group. I’m also attending the 3-day ‘Be Amazing’ course (for all senior managers) in the next 6 months, so this will help me to develop as an individual.

You will love it here, as much me… providing you are passionate about our customers and want to work somewhere that’s fun and lively. You’ll need to have plenty of energy and positivity too. And, if you’re ready to make the most of every opportunity that the business offers you, then you will achieve everything you set out to achieve.

Arjan Patel
What brought me here… I joined Shop Direct (it was called Littlewoods then though) 34 years ago – now, that’s saying something isn’t it!! I joined straight from leaving school, so this is the only company I’ve ever worked for. At the time Littlewoods (Shop Direct) was, and it still is, renowned for supporting its people, and encouraging the sort of personal development which will help you to climb up the career ladder.

I started out… on the shop floor as an Electrical Item Repairer. I then moved into a Quality Inspector Role and, after completing my Diploma (this was a 5 year college course at Tameside & Manchester Polytechnic) I applied for a Trainee Industrial Engineer’s role. Two years later, I became a Principle Analyst, and around 1999, I was asked to support a business critical project. Next, I applied for, and got, the Technical Manager’s role at Shaw. In 2003 I became a Management Service Manager and, around the 2006 mark, I was asked to support the site as a Site Operations Manager.

In my long and varied career… I’ve had a fair amount of training and development. This ranges from ‘First Line Manager’ training to a range of leadership development courses. Additionally I’ve been on various Microsoft courses for training in Excel, Word & Publisher.

My main areas of responsibility are… managing the day-to-day running of the site, including – people, plant, budgets, equipment and raw materials. In particular I manage the Stock Inbound activity of the site and the storage of Bulk Stock within the warehouse. I also work with our IT colleagues in head office to see how we can update our IT infrastructure and hardware/software. Of course meeting high productivity and quality standards as well as making sure that the customer promise is maximised during order fulfillment is always a top priority.

The most enjoyable aspect of my role… is working with a very diverse but very customer focused team. I love introducing and delivering change into the business for the better – because, what I do know is you cannot stop making improvements, or else you’ll be left behind. The only frustration is when individuals sometimes refuse to see this! I am very excited about Shop Direct’s ambition to become the best digital retailer in the UK.

Shop Direct is a great company to work for… It enables you to make a difference and encourages you to flourish. If you’re looking for an ‘easy ride’ – forget it! However, if you’re willing to put in the hard work, then you’ll thrive. An enriching career is within your grasp, because our core values will support your potential ambition.

Catherine Winnard
What brought me here… Before joining Shop Direct I did a graduate placement at Bentley Motors for 2 years. I really enjoyed it, but I always knew my true ambition was to work in retail – a fast-paced industry with a real buzz! And, as I’d studied accounting and finance at University, I felt my strengths would be most suited to Merchandising. So, I looked for retailers in and around the North West. I chose Shop Direct due to the diversity of Brands and I was particularly excited about the new Brand Very (at the time) as I had shopped with them for myself.

I started out… in Kidswear as a Merchandising Assistant. I then moved onto Ladies wear, where, for over 5 years, I’ve followed a structured Career Development programme. This has taken me from Merchandising Assistant to Assistant Merchandiser, then onto a Junior Merchandiser and, until recently, a Merchandiser. So, you could say I’ve really moved up the ranks! The training and development has been fab too! I’ve benefitted from a buddy and clear development milestones in the form of 1-2-1’s with my manager and mid and end of year reviews.

My main areas of responsibility are… to guide and train my team on how to manage deliveries, speak with the suppliers and analyse trade performance, in the most efficient way. I’ve progressed from a very detail focused role, to understanding how that detail informs a top line view. On a day-to-day basis I also manage the weekly sales, stock & intake, deal with critical supplier issues, take actions on trade and performance and manage the needs of my team.

I love that fact that… everyday you get to see how your area is performing and trading and I really take pride when I see amazing reactions to new product landing on the website. I also love the fact that every day is different, but that the fundamental jobs stay the same, as this give a reassuring sense of structure and consistency. And, of course, I love working within a close team of buyers and merchandisers – sharing successes and discussing ideas of how we can be even better is really satisfying.

My short-term goal is… to really grow and develop into my new role and become a great manager to my team. In merchandising you are constantly learning and finding quick wins from others. That doesn’t change at any level.

You’ll love it here if… you’re ready to get stuck-in and start working within your team straightaway. If you try hard, you’ll soon pick things up – oh and don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Chris Finnegan
What brought me here… I was a student at university and needed a part time job. So, I joined Shop Direct as a Contact Centre Advisor, helping customers resolve account queries. At first I just saw it as a temporary role, but as I began to get involved in other areas of the business I realised how varied and rewarding a career at here could be. The size and scale of the business meant I had the opportunity to move my career in any direction I wanted to.

I quickly progressed to… Team Manager and then to Department Manager, where I was responsible for around 150 call centre advisors. Next I moved into Business Analysis & Project Management, where I designed new business processes and managed a wide range of IT projects. I’ve been in my current role as a Programme Manager for just over a year, and I’m still getting to grips with it! It’s hard work but really rewarding.

I’ve had some great training and development… which has given me the chance to build on my skills and develop in areas which will support my career aspirations. I’ve attended many management development courses, including an in-house course for senior management and have also been able to attend external courses to gain formal qualifications.

On a daily basis… my role is to make the experience of shopping with our brands as enjoyable as possible, making customers want to come back to us again and again. I manage a team who make changes at all points in the customer journey to improve the shopping experience. This can involve changing business processes, developing new and exciting features for our websites, or working with any area of the business to optimise the customer experience. I’m also responsible for leading a group-wide communications and engagement programme aimed at developing customer focused behaviors and decision making across our network of colleagues and strategic partners, in over 20 locations across the globe!

I like the varied nature of my role… I’m involved in all aspects of the business from marketing, contact centres, logistics, financial services, IT and ecommerce to name a few! Innovation and creativity are also key as I explore new ideas and opportunities to improve how Shop Direct operates.

The future is full of opportunity… who knows what’s around the corner! Many doors have been opened for me within Shop Direct, and I hope this continues into the future.

If you’d like to join us… get your application in right away! It’s a great time to join Shop Direct as we begin our journey to becoming a truly world class digital retailer.

Kirsty Jones
What brought me here… I had been working with Lime 09 and Volume V3, creative agencies that shot fashion imagery and produced studio work for Shop Direct, so I knew some people that worked here already and had experienced the business from a supplier perspective and been impressed! I also knew that Shop Direct were on a journey to be the best in the industry and had a strong emphasis on their people. I hoped that this was something that I could be a part of.

When I joined Shop Direct… as part of the Senior Management induction programme I attended a number of training sessions designed to give me an insight into the business and its different strands. This included going out on the delivery vans to meet with customers. With regard to development, I am always encouraged by my manager to take on new tasks and responsibilities that will develop me as a manager and within my current role.

My role varies from day to day… I manage a team of people who work in the studios either creating the imagery or creating an environment for it to happen. I also liaise with other departments within the business to ensure we’re providing the services required and to monitor deadline and schedule dates. And, I’m often involved in working groups looking at change for the future – whether that be processes or physical changes.

I love my job… every day is different and seeing the teams that I work with produce fabulous images for our website, brochures and catalogues gives me a real sense of pride. I really enjoy meeting so many different people across the business who come to visit the studios and they are always positive about what we are doing and the setup we have.

If you’re considering joining Shop Direct… I’d recommend that you do your research about the business, our values, heritage and what our future ambitions are. It’s a fast paced environment and a fun place to work. I would recommend Shop Direct to anyone considering a career within an online digital retailer.

Chris Howard
What brought me here… my experience, prior to joining Shop Direct, was gained in digital marketing. Over a ten-year period, I worked for various leading ecommerce businesses – most recently Play.com and eBay. I was attracted to Shop Direct, due to their clearly stated ambition to become a world class digital retailer, together with the fact that they were investing in the talent and infrastructure necessary to make this a reality. Their ambition perfectly matched my desire to build a truly outstanding digital marketing function in a business of significant scale.

Since joining… I’ve participated in the 90-day induction programme for senior managers, which helped to give me a good overview of all the different functions within the business. My remit has also expanded from what it was initially too, from looking after Display to now being responsible for all paid digital marketing activity across the group.

On a day-to-day basis… I’m responsible for managing display advertising, affiliate marketing, paid search, price comparison websites and paid advertising via social media sites such as Facebook. As a digital marketing team, our role is to use these channels as effectively as possible to drive profitable demand and recruit new customers.

The best thing about my role is… working with an extremely talented and friendly team, learning new things from them every day and working together to become a world class Ecommerce department. The determination to constantly innovate across the team is up there with anything I’ve seen in my previous roles. In fact, at times there are so many great ideas on how we can improve even further, it’s frustrating that we can’t implement them all at once!

Right now, my ambition is… to develop our team into the best client-side Digital Marketing team in the UK and Shop Direct offers a great platform to do this. At the same time, I’m also getting exposure to a number of other teams within the business, from Brands to IT to FS, which is great experience for any future roles.

You should join us if… you’re looking for the opportunity to work in a world class digital environment and have the ambition and commitment to contribute to that vision. Shop Direct is a great place to work!

Janina Sa
What brought me here… prior to joining Shop Direct, I’d worked as an HR Assistant at Wincanton. I was interested in joining a well-established and evolving retail organisation in the North West. I also wanted to be part of the Shop Direct journey as they moved from being a catalogue company to a world class digital retailer.

My first role at Shop Direct was… Resource Assistant, based within the Recruitment Team at Head Office. I enjoyed every aspect of it, built up excellent relationships with colleagues at all levels and gained a lot of experience about the business.

From day one, I’ve had lots of hands-on training… my team members and managers within the recruitment team, gave me lots of great advice and support, which helped me develop into my role as an HR Administrator. I am currently working with experienced HR Specialists, to develop HR Generalist experience so I can take my career further within HR.

I work on the HR Shared Services Helpdesk which involves… answering queries from managers and staff across the group in relation to: Payroll; Absence Management; Performance Management; Probationary Periods; Advice on disciplinary, grievance, appeal or investigation hearings; Resignations; Pensions and Rewards and Benefits. I answer telephone, e-mail or face-to-face queries on a daily basis and support HR Specialists with HR cases across the Group. I also help support managers across all sites to manage long-term absence cases.

I love that… every day is different and I get to meet and work with different employees from across the Group. I also like the fact that I get to see the people I’ve helped to recruit, develop within the company. Supporting and solving cases with managers and HR Specialists gives me great satisfaction too. To be honest, I’m really proud to be working for such an excellent company.

My goal is to… develop my career within HR and become a HR Specialist. I am receiving excellent support from HR colleagues and hope to attend some soft skill courses to help build my confidence and improve ways of working.

If you are planning to join Shop Direct… just be yourself, show ambition and you will go a long way.

Trish Hadden
What brought me here… Prior to joining Shop Direct I was working in the office of a local primary school. I’d worked for Shop Direct previously, many years ago, and decided to return as I recognised that it was a company that believed in developing people and that there were real career opportunities there.

When I first returned… I worked as a Weekend Manager in Arrears Collections. I then progressed to a Department Manager of Collections and, shortly after, I was given a secondment opportunity to the role of Head of Credit Support. Following this I progressed to Head of Collections Support and, more recently, I’ve taken-on responsibility for Debt Recovery.

Since joining the training and development has been great!… I’ve been given coaching, support and development opportunities by my Manager, who has also encouraged me to challenge myself and my ways of working. The Learning and Development Department have also supported me along the way, with specific training needs and 1-2-1 workshops.

On a day-to-day basis… I’m responsible for managing the Collections Support team who deal with customers that are vulnerable or in severe financial difficulties. I also oversee the Debt Recovery team, who facilitate and support the debt sale process and management of special debt solutions through 3rd parties.

The thing I love most is… achieving results! I like to make things better for our employees and drive engagement, which ultimately improves the customer journey. I like to give people the opportunities that I’ve been given and support them in their aspirations too.

I’m very proud of the achievements of my teams and the results that they deliver – especially the fact that the Specialist support team have won 2 national awards for Corporate Social Responsibility and the Debt Recovery Team have recently won an industry award. I’m also excited about the future of Shop Direct, the results we are achieving and the journey we’re on to becoming World Class.

In the future… I’m keen to continue to learn, develop and improve at what I do. Thankfully, my Manager supports me in my personal development – leading, coaching and mentoring me in my role.

If you’re planning to join Shop Direct, I’d say… Be yourself. Be honest. Be brave. If you are prepared to work hard, and take ownership for your own development you will be coached, mentored, and supported to achieve your aspirations. Who knows where you could be and what role you could be doing in a few years time?

Stuart Hutson

What brought me here… after graduating with a degree in Astrophysics, I joined a telecoms company building BI solutions. Following a couple of similar roles within different firms, I decided to join Shop Direct. Mainly due to the direction Shop Direct was taking, the enthusiasm of the CFO and his vision for the future.

I started out as… a Financial Analytics Manager tasked with developing financial solutions. However, over time Shop Direct has consolidated and evolved and my role and responsibilities have increased. Initially, I was a one-man band with the task of creating a team. Now I’m responsible for leading a 25-strong function, managing all BI solutions across Shop Direct.

I’ve been supported all the way… Shop Direct has always been keen on encouraging the development of skills and knowledge and this has ranged from the very technical 2 weeks on a DBA course, to softer skills such as ‘leadership and impact’ ran by an external company. I’ve also attended and spoke at many conferences and events over the years.

On a day-to-day basis… I lead a team of BI specialists with varying skills ranging from click-stream, relational database solutions, OLAP solutions, targeting solutions, reporting and analytics, all focused on delivering an excellent user experience. I also act as IT sponsor for one of our leading initiatives, which is a time consuming, but hugely exciting opportunity to drive the business forward. I’m also helping to create a world class data strategy for the group.

I always enjoy… it when we deliver a project and see how it’s being used in the business. I also like knowing that we found out something we didn’t know before by using the applications we developed. I just love the challenges Shop Direct gives you. In fact the only thing that frustrates me is that I know there’s always more we can do!

Looking to the future… I’ve always wanted to expand my knowledge of IT and data and drive a world class strategy – Shop Direct have given me this opportunity. In the future I’d like to expand my knowledge of new technologies and work on some cutting edge stuff. After all, technology really differentiates within Digital Retail.

If you’re planning to join Shop Direct… expect it to be challenging and fast paced. But, if you put in the effort you’ll be rewarded with a varied and interesting career. Our diverse products and services means you’ll be involved in a financial services project one day and high fashion the next. It’s this role variety that really makes things interesting.

Tamas Kopanyi

What brought me here… before joining Shop Direct, I worked for Citibank as a Collections Strategy Specialist for 5 years, where I was responsible for strategy oversight and best practice sharing, across European and Middle-eastern consumer businesses. Prior to that, I worked on company valuations and restructurings with a small independent consulting firm in Hungary. I got my masters in Finance in Budapest more than 10 years ago and I also hold a BS in Business from the US.

I was attracted to Shop Direct… because it looked, to me, like a company with a vision that was focused on achieving a better future. I also really liked the description of the role, as it sounded like it would suit my experience and provide career development.

Since joining I have participated in… the 90 day senior management introduction training and the senior leadership team away day. I’ve also completed a number of mandatory e-learning modules.

On a day-to-day basis… I lead a small Collections Strategy team that provides support and oversight to Collections Operations. This includes analytics for new strategy initiatives, organising champion-challenger tests, liaising with other teams on collections related tasks, producing MI and owning collections policies.

As the manager of the team, I mainly focus on organising the work, liaising with other managers and presenting results to senior management forums. Given the size of the team however, I do quite a bit of analytics and project management for key strategic initiatives as well.

In particular, I love the fact that… as a strategic team, we are able to influence credit loss numbers through our work. I take pride in being able to deliver fair solutions that help the company reduce credit losses and help customers get back on their feet financially at the same time. It’s not easy to do, but it is possible. And it’s really satisfying!

In the future… I’d like to widen my knowledge about consumer credit in the retail area and can also extend it to the whole of risk management rather than just specialising in collections management.

If you’re planning to join Shop Direct… get ready for a very fast paced and challenging environment. You’ll need to be able to perform well under pressure, like to try new things and be able to work as a team. Above all, just be honest and be yourself.

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