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A day in the life of... John Lewis’ deputy branch manager Charlotte Williams

Ahead of the Cambridge BID and Cambridge Independent job fair on October 4, 2022, we're speaking to people in a number of roles around the city.

This week, we spoke to Charlotte Williams, 25, deputy branch manager at John Lewis in Cambridge’s Grand Arcade.

Charlotte Williams, deputy manager of John Lewis Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell
Charlotte Williams, deputy manager of John Lewis Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

Describe your role for us and what you do on a typical day.

My previous role was all about driving footfall and theatre into our flagship branch and supporting the wider West End to bring experiences to all who visit. Thinking outside of the box to delight our customers and to bring all partners in the branch on that journey with me. I encouraged leaders to think creatively and to be bold with their decisions. No day in retail is the same. It is all about working effectively together to meet our customers needs, creating a happy and trusting environment for our partners and customers, while having fun along the way of course!

When did you join?

I joined as an apprentice in September 2015 after my A-levels, having done work experience in John Lewis Cambridge prior to this.

How did you get where you are now?

By sheer hard work and determination. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do after GCSEs but I was lucky enough to be given a chance to do some work experience in John Lewis by someone who heard and saw my determination. She encouraged me to apply for an apprentice role and we are still friends today.

What do you love about what you do?

I love working for such a dynamic and forward-thinking business that is partner-led. I believe that this enables me to showcase the best of me, by continually learning from my colleagues and empowering people to achieve the best version of themselves in a work environment.

Tell us about the toughest part of your job – and the most fun.

A challenging yet exciting part of my job is influencing stakeholders to see through a partnership lens and effectively challenge when I believe a decision is not right for the business, while working together to find the best solution.

The best part of my job is working as part of a team, to develop talent and support their aspirations, to watch projects evolve and to drive passion and success while increasing profitability and maximising delivery of outstanding customer service.

Do you remember how you felt on your first day?

I do. I remember being very nervous about wanting to make a good impression and to succeed. I travelled in by bus and arrived too early. I sat drinking coffee and thinking about what I would be doing… on finishing my first day, I remember saying to my mum: “I really think I could be good at this!”

And here I am today, I am really proud of what I have achieved.

What advice would you give to someone looking to work in your industry?

I would say that retail is both challenging and hard work but also so rewarding and enjoyable. To be part of something big that allows you to grow in your career is an exceptional experience.

What’s great about working in Cambridge?

I love Cambridge because of all that it has to offer, its history and architecture, the beautiful River Cam, the diversity of people and cultures and of course the shopping and places to eat. It really has a bit of everything and so much opportunity. Now to me it feels familiar.. like coming home.

What do you aim to do in the future to further your career?

My aim is to build on my experience and skills to become a head of branch. I am driven, passionate and resilient as well as being a bit silly at times… I will not stop until I reach the top and John Lewis has perpetuated this desire to succeed in me. I am so grateful for all the people who have believed in me and supported me in my career so far.

Don’t miss our jobs fair

Interested in exploring new career opportunities – or attracting new staff? Cambridge BID and the Cambridge Independent are joining forces to host a job fair in Cambridge on October 4, 2022.

Featuring all sectors within the Cambridge BID area – from hospitality and retail, to office-based jobs and beyond – the job fair will take place at the beautifully renovated Downing Place United Reformed Church, from 10am-3pm. It’s free for visitors.

Want a stall? Email natalie.cargill@cambridgebid.co.uk.

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