Surpassing the competition through leadership and innovation
You could say Katie’s career had been designed for a management role at M&S. We first met her back in 1995, when she joined us on a year-long placement as a young student. Since graduating, she’s gained invaluable experience on both sides of the fence, having worked with one of our major clothing suppliers for 16 years. After reuniting with us in 2013, she’s been shaping the future of our popular Menswear department as an insightful Technical Lead.
For Katie, the most exciting part of the job is coaching a team of technologists and travelling the world in search of fresh ideas. “Working with teams on the ground is fundamental to delivering great products,” she says. “Sourcing new fabrics with technical advantages, as well as engineering fabrics for product innovation, profit margin and manufacturing strategy is what sets us apart from the competition.”
The challenges Katie faces on a daily basis involve striking a balance between her technical and management responsibilities. However, her ability to prioritise enables her to effectively collaborate with other areas of the business: “We work alongside the design team to ensure we’re always focused on upcoming trends.” This is essential, Katie stresses, as it’s “everyone’s responsibility” to deliver products that are stylish, innovative and created with our customers in mind.
Even though Katie had already gained an impressive professional skillset before joining us, she’s more than happy to admit we’ve furthered her development and opened many doors for her career. “M&S introduced me to the 30% club. Delivered by Women Ahead, it offers mentoring across all sectors in order to achieve a broader pipeline of women succeeding at all levels.” She also has a lot to say for our own brand of mentorship, which is focused on our employees’ long-term progression: “They gave me all the contacts across the business to expand my knowledge and management skills.”
Katie is currently working as one of the Menswear Change Champions for The Smarter Working Project, helping to ensure our work space is fit for the future and our mindset is thinking more smartly and efficiently. Plus, she’s been the proud organiser of major events that have opened us up to new business opportunities, such as our first Fabric Mill Day, attracting 500 visitors from head office to connect with 70 worldwide fabric suppliers. In this way, her talents have had a visible effect on our annual performance.
To anyone else hoping to pioneer innovative results within the company, Katie recommends being versatile, inquisitive, creative and open to alternative approaches – as well as being a good leader. “Take advantage of all the networking opportunities and training available,” she says. “And it goes without saying to follow our strategy of putting the customer at the heart of everything we do.”
By following these simple pieces of advice, Katie has been able to live up to our values of Inspiration, Innovation, Integrity and In-touch, and you can too.
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