From shop floor to CEO
Anna Blackburn, September 14, 2016
Our goal is running a profitable business – but a happy workforce is key to delivering success
As a graduate straight out of university 18 years ago, I was attracted to Beaverbrooks by the company’s commitment to internal training and promotion. I was also told that a management career was based purely on merit and that if I worked hard and performed well I would progress. This has certainly been the case.
At Beaverbrooks when somebody is performing well we recognise and reward them – this creates loyalty with the added benefit that they know our business from the bottom up. All four members of Beaverbrooks’ senior executive team have worked their way up through the business, which is representative of how we promote from within.
I began my career with Beaverbrooks as part of the sales team when we opened our flagship store in the Trafford Centre, and after completing an internal management development programme 18 months later
I was promoted to store manager. After managing several branches I was made head of operations in 2008 and then head of retail in 2012. One year later I was asked to be CEO.
Our people are the lifeblood of our business, which is why we invest considerable time and effort in recruiting the right staff and training and developing them. In 2015 we launched a new induction programme for our store teams that recognises different entry levels of skill and experience, as opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach. Our internal management development programme, which involves home study, accelerated learning and individual coaching, is also available to team members looking to progress on to management. Weekly attention is allocated to training, with half an hour devoted to sales skills or exploring a new product in each of our 68 stores.
Role modelling is also a crucial aspect of our culture. We’re all part of the same team, albeit with very different roles and responsibilities, and senior managers regularly roll up their sleeves and get stuck in. On a recent branch visit I spent time managing the shop floor to support the sales staff during a particularly busy afternoon. Some of the newer team members were quite surprised to see their CEO mucking in!
We’ve featured in The Sunday Times’ Best Companies to Work For list for 13 years and have consistently achieved high levels of employee engagement from the entire business. We believe that our people-centric approach and focus on treating people right is why one in three team members at Beaverbrooks have been with the company for more than 10 years. We’re certainly not a ‘soft and fluffy’ employer and our goal is absolutely on running a highly successful and profitable business – but we believe that a happy workforce is key to delivering this success.
One of the many benefits of being a family-owned retailer is that there is complete collaboration between HR and the senior executive team; the senior management team acts as an extension of HR. As a result HR policies can be more agile. The HR function is simply seen as an extension of our purpose to ‘enrich lives,’ which means making a positive difference for our customers, our people and the wider community, and treating people right.
Anna Blackburn is CEO of Beaverbrooks the Jewellers