Life in the Channel: John Lewis’ Rebecca Williams

The 2016 PCR Women of the Year Rising Star talks about the shock of winning and the perks of the job

What is your role and how long have you been doing the job for your current employer?

I’m the junior buyer for our Windows Computing and Gaming categories within John Lewis, and have been in the role for two years. I cover everything from planning our Windows assortment for the coming year to incorporating emerging trends into the range. I also plan our promotional periods such as Black Friday and Clearance, as well as working closely with our marketing team to create inspirational marketing linking to our wider business priorities and trends. All of course underpinned by actually trading the product alongside my fabulous team on a daily basis.

What does an average day look like for you?

Literally no two days are the same, which to be honest is why I enjoy my job so much. You never know what the next day will hold. New opportunities come through all the time, especially working in a department store. It’s always interesting to see how we can incorporate our department within our Fashion and Home categories as well. Having said that, a lot of my day does involve planning and strategising our department, working closely with our brands to maximum the John Lewis offering, and to make sure that (sorry, cheesy line) we are never standing still.

What is the best/worst part of your role?

Without doubt the best part of my job is working with my team. I know that is a bit of a cliché, but we probably spend more time together than with our family or friends, so it’s actually quite refreshing being in a team in which we all get along (most of the time). The worst part… now that’s a tricky one. I think, on the one hand, it’s always a bit of a blow when something doesn’t deliver as you had expected, especially when you put so much thought, time and commitment into it. However, on the other hand, I really enjoy a challenge, so I just look at it as another obstacle to overcome.

How does working as a buyer in tech compare with other areas?

I don’t think I have ever worked in a faster paced and more evolving industry than tech. I have learnt more in the last three years being in computing than any other department. The industry is developing so much, and targeting the next generation of customers along with seeing what trends are going to hit our stores next is exciting – whether that be smart home, or virtual reality, both of which probably seemed farfetched only a couple of years ago. Plus, the trips aren’t half bad. I mean, who would complain about going to Vegas? 

What is the most unexpected thing that’s happened to you at work?

Probably winning Rising Star at the PCR WOTY awards last year. I had only been in computing for a year, so it was such a shock, but a humbling experience. It was so nice having the team out in full force and we definitely went and celebrated afterwards, however the hangover the next day was not so fun! 

How important are events such as the PCR Women of the Year awards?

I think what was great about the awards last year, was that it elevated the awareness of women in this industry, and celebrated the successes that those individuals have achieved through their own merit. However, it is still a widely competitive industry, regardless of gender, and therefore you have to continue to prove yourself just like everyone else.

How can people get in touch with you?

Probably LinkedIn is the best way. 

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