2007 to date
Senior Operations Manager
2004 - 2007
International Operations Manager
2002 - 2004
2001 - 2002
Store Communications Manager
1999 - 2001
1998 - 1999
Assistant Store Manager
1995 - 1997
- Steve Parkinson
- Senior Operations Manager
Q: What made you choose to join your current employer?
Having worked for Mothercare International for three years I had the opportunity to get to know Alshaya as I worked closely alongside them with the franchise. The company impressed me with the professionalism, structure and particularly the ambition to grow the business. It seemed a very exciting opportunity and I was right!
Q: What is the basic function/purpose of your current role?
I am in charge of the Mothercare and ELC brand operations for the Middle East. This includes general Retail operations, but also includes a lot of time and involvement in areas such as Store Development, Visual Merchandising, HR, Marketing, Business Planning and product ranging/grading. It is the most varied role I have ever been involved in.
Q: How relevant were your qualifications to you getting the job?
My academic qualifications were not relevant. Experience, track record and attitude are what counted as far as I am concerned.
Q: Describe some of the key tasks involved in performing your current role and the frequency with which you have to perform them.
I spend a lot of time travelling across the nine countries and spend approximately one in three days "on the road". This is mainly for general store visits but also to spend time with local teams to discuss key areas such as Marketing, HR and Store Development. My role involves a lot of market and site reviews as part of the ongoing expansion of the brand.
Time in the office is mainly just one day a week where we review the business, and then the Brand weekly focus/strategy is agreed and communicated to the store and merchandise teams. I also use this opportunity to spend time with our office-based brand team and the support functions in the business such as HR.
Q: What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at work each day?
Buy a Starbucks and then speak to my boss to discuss the previous day's sales.
Q: How big is the team in which you work?
The Mothercare and ELC team in Alshaya Middle East is approximately 1000. My Field Operations Management team is around 25 and the store teams are over 900. The Head Office Mothercare team is approximately 30.
Q: Describe how your job interacts with the rest of your team.
I communicate almost constantly via store visits, phone, e-mail or meetings. There is so much happening all the time that your planning and organising skills need to be pretty sharp. My role is obviously now more strategic and directional than perhaps hands on, however I am always prepared to get involved if and when I need to. Due to the diversity of my role I get to interact with hundreds of people every week both in and out of the brands.
Q: How would you describe the working culture of your current employer?
Alshaya is a company which demands high standards, expects commitment and respects loyalty. It is a company that has great ambition to develop and grow and therefore has a culture that encourages new ideas and ways of working. The atmosphere is very busy and hard driven, but at the same time there is a great team spirit and plenty of good humour.
Q: What career avenues do you hope to be able to pursue in the next: two years, five years & ten years?
Alshaya is expanding fast and opportunities will come to those with the right skills, attitudes and behaviours. Personally I love the operational and business development side of retail and hope to pursue an ongoing career within the company that includes some of this, wherever in the world it takes me!
Q: What do you like most about your current role and why?
I enjoy being in stores with the teams. These guys are the ones who are closest to the customer. They are the front line. The teams really appreciate visits and I learn a lot myself. The stores and the store teams are the finished product of everything else we do. Having spent 13 years in store-based retail roles from a Saturday "Lad" to Store Manager I still enjoy that feeling of being on the shopfloor. This is where it all happens at the end of the day!
Q: What did you/do you find hardest about your current role?
Having responsibility of 140 stores is always a challenge to any Operator. When they are across nine different countries, all with different trends, currencies, rules and regulations that can sometimes complicate things far more than when they are all in one country!
Q: How close do you think the general public’s view of your employer is to the reality?
Very accurate. Most people see Alshaya as a very organised, structured and professional company, with an exciting expansion plan. In relation to some of its competitors in international franchising, it is definitely considered as one of the very best.
Q: Would you recommend your employer to a friend and if so, why?
Yes. But only if you are prepared to respect cultures, work very hard and operate in the right manner. You get out what you put in.