THIS week’s High Flyer is Grace Lough, store manager at the new Marks & Spencer Carrickfergus outlet, which opens tomorrow.
What was your first job?
My first job was with Etam, which gave me the foundations to build a future career in retail.
What qualifications do you have?
I did GCSEs and A levels at Belfast High School before studying for a degree in management at Queen’s University Belfast, which allowed me to develop the leadership skills that I use in my role as a store manager within M&S.
What do you attribute your success to?
I’ve been lucky to work with some amazing managers, who have encouraged me on my career journey. M&S is a great place to work and I’ve been offered invaluable skills and opportunities to develop my career. The next exciting challenge for me is store manager of the brand new M&S Carrickfergus store.
How would you describe yourself to someone who’d never met you?
I am extremely passionate about the job I do. I love to be challenged, so new opportunities and experiences are a great motivation.
Who do you look up to in business?
I’ve learnt so much from other M&S colleagues and always get something new out of every role. Podcasts are a great way to get business inspiration – our M&S one is great and I’d also recommend Secret Leaders and Eat Sleep Work Repeat.
How do you get the best out of people who work for you?
At M&S we recognise the important of having a diverse and inclusive workforce, bringing together different backgrounds and skills to deliver amazing experiences for our customers. For me, it’s important to keep my team motivated and to create an engaging working environment so we’re all in for the customer.
If you could change one thing about doing business in Northern Ireland, what would it be?
As a business, it’s so important we support our local communities and give back in any way we can. All 21 M&S stores in Northern Ireland have recently taken part in our M&S Volunteering Week, which has been so rewarding for our colleagues and made a lasting difference to the local community.
What website or app could you not do without?
Instagram – I love that it can inspire our customers and also offer them the opportunity to seamlessly click through and order clothing products via M&S shoppable posts.
What was the last book you read?
‘This is going to hurt – Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor’ – definitely worth a read.
What car do you drive?
A Mini Cooper
Tell us something interesting about yourself?
I volunteer for a charity called Rosie’s Trust – I walk dogs for people who are no longer able due to old age or illness.
What’s your greatest passion outside work and family?
I love to travel – my next trip is to Seattle in October.