Anyone looking to get ahead in fashion retailing should focus on themselves and build their personal brand, Matalan’s HR director, Emma Crossland today told the Drapers Next Generation event in London today.
Speaking at the annual Drapers event for aspiring fashion professionals, Crossland emphasised, however, that this should not be at the expense of others: “It’s not about being selfish. Take people with you – you’re part of a team. But do focus on yourself. This is your life and career, and the more you focus on you, the better you will become.”
Crossland, who joined Matalan from online travel company Jet2.com as head of HR in October 2014, encouraged delegates to set themselves clear goals: “Do what is right for you. Think about what motivates you. It may be salary, personal, career – it doesn’t matter, just know what it is.”
These goals should form part of a personal development plan with clear action points, she added.
She said one of the best pieces of advice she has received was from Arcadia’s group human resources director Siobhan Forey: “She said to me, are you doing everything you can to get job ready?”
There will be bumps and scrapes throughout your career, Crossland said, but she encouraged delegates to “fail fast and move on”: “It’s key to recognise when things aren’t going your way. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off. You will learn as much from when things don’t go right.”
On building a personal brand, she told the audience to think about what they would like to be famous for: “I have a reputation for delivering,” she explained.
Work hard, play hard, she advised. She chose to work at Matalan because it aligns with those values: “Early in my career I worked too hard, but now I have a balance, it’s fantastic.”
Finally, she recommended growing your network to get ahead: “Remember, it’s a two-way process. There are times in your career when you will need more than you give back and vice versa. Working in HR, I want to give back, so I enjoy networking more because I’m giving back. But I also learn from younger generations.
“Go to events like this one and absorb it. You can learn an awful lot from friends, friends of friends and acquaintances. And LinkedIn is useful.”