We caught up with Jo Walker, Managing Director of the Perfume Shop, and heard about her time at the Oxford Summer School, the reasons behind sending her colleagues to all three programmes and a few words from previous delegates from the Perfume Shop.
Jo Walker, Managing Director, The Perfume Shop
“When I attended the Oxford Summer School, The Perfume Shop was a relatively small organisation in comparison to what it is today. However, we still hold the same principles as we did then- our colleague’s development is integral to the success of the company. That is why we send individuals to all three programmes the Oxford Summer School offer.
I am fortunate to have experienced OSS as a delegate myself when I was a store manager at the, what is now called, Academy school. When I think back to it, I tend to see it as a mixture of Big Brother crossed with the Apprentice. There’s no doubting it is an intense experience! But unlike Big Brother and the Apprentice you develop your skills throughout the short period of time to benefit the team (or fictional company) instead of thinking solely about number one.
I remember returning to work on the Monday and reporting back to my CEO my learns. It was safe to say it lit a fire in my belly.
You cannot underestimate how big an opportunity attending an OSS programme is. In what other situation would you be able to mix with likeminded professionals and learn from one another? The opportunity to not only learn new skills but learn about yourself and how you interact with others is phenomenal. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses lets you go beyond any limitations you had restricted yourself with, and return to work with the skills to get the very best from your team.
As I said, we send all levels of individuals to the schools and I have already seen immediate changes in colleagues who attended last year’s programmes. Most tell me the ability to mix with peers and hear inspirational stories from leading industry professionals has really helped them focus and increase their determination to push their career onwards and upwards. This is vital for us in an industry which requires individuals to be ambitious in all they do. And our day-to-day environment doesn’t always allow for individuals to find the time to step back and objectively look at themselves as a leader and see how they could better perform.”
Florendia Couvaras, Trainee Buyer, The Perfume Shop, Foundation 2013 delegate
“OSS gave me the chance to take time and thought over my objectives. I am aware of my strengths and weaknesses and the environment made me comfortable enough to deal with them. Overall I found it a challenging, informative and rewarding week. It has taught me so much and made a huge difference to my life and career!”
Michelle Rowland – The Perfume Shop, Academy 2013 delegate
“There were clear objectives from the first day. It was brilliant to work in a diverse team with other retailers and share years of knowledge. The tasks were fantastic and I achieved all my objectives and learnt a lot about myself and how others perceive me. It was an amazing experience, with well-structured learns and I left with a lot to take away.”
Will Cleare, HR Manager, The Perfume Shop, Masters 2014 delegate
“The access to such quality and insightful speakers was second to none. The facilitation was first class which really helped to keep energy levels high each day.”