Sometimes people say: life is what you make of it. I certainly believe so! Two years ago I applied for a program I read and heard about called the International Business Traineeship (IBT) and today I’m sitting at a kitchen table in Toulouse writing this blog while my new French colleagues are sharing stories and laughing their Sunday evening away. Starting as an IBT was a tornado of new opportunities, challenges and ever changing circumstances which brought me the knowledge and experience I have today.
The most memorable are all the great people you will come to know along your way. It inspires me every day to have the opportunity to work together with my colleagues from all over the world. Especially with your fellow IBT’s you will quickly develop a close personal relationship as you are all experiencing the same rollercoaster. Personally I was really lucky with my roommate, she is one of the most incredible people I know and she quickly grew to becoming a very good friend. It’s weird how comfortable you grow with a ‘stranger’ and how soon we already had our little rituals such as Netflix Sunday evenings, talking about our working days while preparing our dinners and sending each other text messages when we would arrive safely at our final destinations while travelling abroad. Just like an old married couple.
While reading this you must have a 1000 questions with regards to the Traineeship. I hope that through this blog you will get a better idea of what the program can offer and how YOU are actually in charge of forming your own future within the Bestseller organization. Here’s a glimpse of my life as an IBT:
LIFE AS A PRODUCT SALES DEVELOPER
I’m currently working as a Product Sales Developer for two sub-brands within Jack&Jones. Within my job I make sure that the Belgian, French and Canadian markets are covered in their collection needs and if not I make sure our buying and design department develops relevant styles. Moreover, I sell to our retail stores, brainstorm on new ways to improve our Wholesale and Retail sales approach, make brand implementation strategies, stay on top off all relevant trends and competitor developments and work closely to our Key Accounts and Key Account managers. It all sounds very fancy but the bottom line is that I need to have a really close collaboration with different parts of our value chain, have a global mindset and travel a lot- which I love to do so that makes me a very happy person! Bestseller is like a high-speed train, you can have a fantastic time if you follow the speed and hop on. However, when you miss your step and don’t catch-up it’s not easy to keep with the pace. As they say in Jack & Jones: you need to be in it to win it.
So, what have I been up to in the last month? Pff… that is a very good question! Sometimes I’ve so many things passing my desk in one week that it’s hard to recall the week before, let alone an entire month. As stated before I travel a lot for my current job. In general I’m on the road three days out of the week to visit our offices, retail stores and / or Wholesale clients. Travelling so often keeps me up to speed with regards to the latest market demands, the feedback of the sales team regarding new collections and the implementation of collections in our retail stores. The great opportunity within the fashion industry is that there is always room for improvement. It’s a business that is alive 24/7 and our competitors are always challenging us to offer even better trends and products to our customers. I love the level of multi-tasking that comes with the job and how there is a great mix in between creativity, people management and business intel. I like dynamics; a nine to five job- working behind the same desk 365 days out of the year, would not be my piece of cake. My days are never the same and I can honestly say that every week presents new challenges and opportunities which request me to be open minded, creative and problem orientated. Three weeks ago for instance I was in Antwerp with my Key Account manager showing our newest collection to our clients, two weeks ago I was travelling through France and Belgium with my Express buyer visiting our retail stores and watching what our competitors are doing in the market and today I’m in Toulouse with our French retail team working on the opening of our new retail store.
In order for me to be closer to my markets I moved to Paris at the end of August and am now working from the French office on the days that I’m not out travelling. I cannot describe the great vibe that comes with walking through a city like Paris, there is something happening on every corner and day-to-day fashion is everywhere. Sometimes I just like to sit on a bench for an hour or so, watching people and taking pictures of guys passing by. Keeping a logbook of every day street style is a great reference when thinking about which products to place in our retail stores. It is definitely a challenge building up a new life again from scratch but you will soon find out that when you have the right people around you it’s like breathing- at the end everything comes naturally.
When people ask me how it was for me to move to Denmark and then to France I tell them it has been a great adventure and that I’m still very much enjoying the ride. For me it’s more important to think about the possibilities then looking at what could potentially go wrong. It’s of course a big risk to take, you don’t know if you will find people you will click with and you’re leaving your entire support system behind. But it’s the same when you’re buying the latest trendy parka jacket with an all-over CAMO printing. Would you not buy it because you will not get a 100% guarantee that it will stay ‘in-style’? No! You buy it anyway because you feel drawn to it and you want to be part of the lifestyle.
So what will be my next stop? Thursday I’m going back to Paris after we’ve opened the doors to our new store to pack my bags and leave for my holiday to Miami (we all need a little break!) and the week after my holiday I’ll be going to Antwerp, Paris and lastly Denmark to be part of the new collection meetings. Never a dull moment in fashion…
Want to know more about my day-to-day life as an IBT? Stay tuned for my next blog post!