During my KTP Project, I was the Retail Development Manager for St Wilfrid’s Hospice Trading Company and the University of Brighton, where I was responsible for the development of an innovative retail strategy which aimed to increase the revenue in eight shops and online stores, generated in order to support the work of the Hospice.
Just to name a few of the highlights from my project I will start from the beginning; receiving management accreditation from the Ashorne Hill Management College in the first 6 months of my time at St Wilfrid’s allowed me to really understand my position and keep on top of my objectives. The opportunity to gain extensive experience leading a project team, motivating shop managers and working alongside senior managers in a retail environment that was and definitely still is a fast paced and rapidly changing will forever remain with me as much more than simply ‘a job.’
It was so satisfying to change people’s perceptions about charity retail and I still find myself talking people into sustainable fashion. There were many challenges that I had faced in this project like at any organisation budgets are tight and one is forced to think creatively about how to make the most from what you have. I was so lucky to have such an open minded organisation to work for who were so willing to support the KTP and our ideas. We managed to get £10,000 from the Big Lottery Fund to open a completely new concept shop called Rotate, which opened on the principal high street in Eastbourne this past June.
Working on tight deadlines and managing many different projects at one time, going from refitting shops one week to presenting a workshop on branding to the charity’s board of directors the next, I learned what it meant to work under pressure and still maintain control over all the situations at hand. Bringing new ideas to the table during monthly management meetings and motivating a team of shop managers was an essential part of my job and one that I loved doing.
Learning throughout the project from my academic supervisors Harvey Ells and Chris Dutton from the University of Brighton’s School of Service Management, by the end of the project I was advising on all decisions regarding shop design, visual merchandising and store layouts. To do this I had to manage close relationships with printers, designers and industry professionals including other business development managers, start-up companies and wholesalers. All this work led to making positive strides forward and in one year we managed to raise our turnover by 29%.
I would now consider myself a creative manager and one of the great benefits that has come out of the project was the close relationships I made with the University of Brighton and St Wilfrid’s. Recently, I have moved to London and am now working as a Marketing Coordinator for a Film school, where I am using many of the skills I developed during my time as a KTP Associate. I am in no doubt that the experience I gained and the fact I had demonstrated my ability to take responsibility contributed to me getting this role and taking my next step on the career ladder.
The KTP project gave me the opportunity to grow and the nurturing and support of my work from all those involved will stay with me for the rest of my career. I would tell future KTP’s to always do their research before committing to the project and once they have to just jump right in and appreciate every chance that the scheme gives you. It was a wonderful time in my life which I will always cherish.
Veronica Malley, St Wilfrids Hospice KTP