Painting the world pink

Claire’s
Accessories is an international retailing phenomenon. Here, the UK’s training
manager Gillian Ince, 42, explains her role in sharing learning with colleagues
abroad

How
long have you been in this job?

Five
years. I joined Claire’s in 1997 as personnel and training adviser. In 1999, I
was promoted to training manager. In February 2002, I was appointed onto our
management team.

What
does your role involve?

I
provide effective training and development strategies for our retail branches
and central office, for both Claire’s and Girl Heaven [a seven-store business
specialising in makeovers and dress-up], covering about 3,500 employees. I also
maintain strong links with our European teams, and advise on the tools and
resources the UK has produced through our own growth from 55 stores to 440 in
five years. My role as part of the management team includes implementing
vision, business strategies and structures and managing the day-to-day running
of the business.

What’s
the best thing about your job?

Creating
a fun environment for people to work and aspire to. Living the ‘buzz’ factor we
call ‘Claire’s Culture’.

What
is current major project or strategic push?

I
am very busy with the new and increased delivery of development programmes for
our branch managers and assistant managers in the field; instilling a quality
control process into our distribution centre. I am also looking at
interdepartmental communication, a team-working programme and the growth of the
Girl Heaven brand.

What
did you want to do for a living when you were at school?

I
wanted to be a swimming instructor and achieved this at the age of 26.

What
was your first job?

I
had a weekend job at a theme park.

What
was your worst career decision?

I
don’t believe I have made one.

What
was the best career decision you ever made?

Joining
Claire’s Accessories. However, if I hadn’t moved into training while working
for the electricity industry, then who knows what my destiny would have been.

Which
of your qualifications do you most value and why?

My
life skills – they are priceless. I would also say my NLP Practitioner
qualification, because it has enhanced and clarified my understanding of people.

What’s
the worst training course you have experienced?

An
external course to help with the transition to new IT systems.

What
is your preferred terminology?

Learning,
development

What
do you think will be the core skills for your job in the future?

Much
the same as they are now; to be a communicator at all levels of the business,
influencer, innovator of ideas, business manager and inspirational boss.

What
advice would you give to someone starting out in training and development?

Learn,
practise and develop your understanding of people. Build rapport with every
individual you meet. Never look back in disappointment, keep learning and move
forward. The day you become complacent in your role, tell yourself you are in
the wrong job. Understand the HR function and build on that knowledge.

What
are your favourite buzz words?

‘Be
specific’. Other words are: empathy, rapport, behaviours, coaching and
self-development.

Which
buzzwords do you most loathe?

‘Blended’.
Sounds like someone is making a cake!

Are
you good at self-development?

I
would like to think so, whether its increasing my knowledge through reading,
watching videos, testing CBT material, talking with others in T&D and
management roles, or attending seminars, workshops and conferences.

What
self-development have you undertaken in the past 12 months?

A
number of activities including: setting up a networking group with other
training managers in retail. I heard Ken Blanchard speak on Gung Ho! and I
updated my knowledge in delivery of situational leadership. I recently
commenced an open learning course to gain a health and safety certificate and
went trough train the trainer course to deliver Gung Ho! across Claire’s
Accessories.

Up
close and personal

If
you could have any job, what would it be?

I
love what I do, but the idea of a life coach inspires me

Describe
your management style in three words

Open,
supportive and trusting

What
is your motto?

Smile,
life’s too short

How
would you liked to be remembered by your colleagues?

As
a true ‘custodian’ of the Claire’s culture. A fun and caring person to have
around

Where
do you want to be in five years’ time?

In
a hot country during the winter months. Until then, I will continue to grow and
develop with Claire’s and take up all the challenges it throws at me

Your
favourite management book

All
of Ken Blanchard’s books. Anthony Robbins is also a favourite of mine with
Unlimited Power and Hyrum Smith with What Matters Most

Which
training gurus, management experts or business people do you most admire?

Ken
Blanchard, Steven Covey, Anthony Robbins and Ian McDermott

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