Why a retail career is a beautiful thing

Michelle Blaxall in the health and beauty aisle at The Warehouse.

There is a lot more to retail than working on the shop floor – it is a challenging and complex industry that demands skills ranging from logistics and management to IT and marketing. The 662 resident visas issued to foreign retail managers last year shows how in-demand skilled retail managers are. That's why the Warehouse Group is supporting staff to gain a Bachelor of Retail Business Management at Massey University through fully-funded study scholarships. Health and beauty category manager Michele Blaxall, who incidentally did start out on the shop floor, is one of those staff members.

Retail careers: Michelle Blaxall, lead category manager

A part-time after-school job earning an extra bit of cash for Michelle Blaxall has turned into a roller-coaster ride that keeps her interested and engaged in the retail industry.

As the lead category manager for health and beauty at The Warehouse, Michelle now works on juggling all the elements that entice customers to buy these products.

“Working with people, product, price, promotion and place to get the best results for the business – all these levers have different impacts, and working out which ones to pull and how hard to pull them is really interesting, particularly as the results of most changes you make become fairly evident quite quickly,” she says.

Michelle finds that her 27-year career in retail has given her a good knowledge base in studying part-time for the Bachelor of Business Retail Management.

“Studying has enabled me to apply a more rounded approach to my role within the business, and I’m really looking forward to the second-year papers, as I know this will add the next layer of knowledge onto my years of practice.”

In order to balance work, study and her home life, Michelle schedules her study time across the week and weekend, getting into the habit early in the semester. “It becomes second nature to study and gets a lot easier.”

Michelle wishes people knew how rewarding and varied a career in retail can be. “There is so much that goes on behind the scenes and so many different roles that are involved in making a retailer successful. Retail is fascinating because it is all about people – so whether you are a sales person, a marketer, a human resource person, someone who likes IT or numbers, is into designing product or even buildings – retail will provide you with some fantastic opportunities, as well as challenge you.”

“You have to enjoy working with people. Resilience and patience are a must, as is being flexible and creative. Retail is all about the customer. If you understand them, you are over halfway there.”

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