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Bill Watson

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Be Inspired Series

Zara Thompson

Cosmetics, Skincare & Fragrance Manager
Gordon’s Chemists

Zara followed a passion for cosmetics to work with a range of make-up houses

What does your job entail?

My core remit includes responsibility for 52 Gordon’s Chemists stores in Northern Ireland and Scotland, overseeing cosmetics, skincare and fragrance.  I’m also responsible for recruitment, training and development of a team of cosmetic account managers.  In addition, I monitor, analyse and drive sales co-ordinating external and internal events, attend product training seminars and launches and liaise with area managers and sales representatives.

Is it 9-5?

As my key focus is to ensure best practice and the highest levels of customer service my role never quite fits the proverbial 9-5.  I am committed to maintaining a high profile within the stores including a challenging schedule of weekly store visits, one to one and management meetings. Coupled with event / promotional activity and a range of third party responsibilities invariably this means that there is always a percentage of work that may be taken home.

How did you get into this line of work?

Essentially I followed my natural interest and passion for cosmetics and merchandising. The skincare and cosmetics industry offered a high level of satisfaction, challenging my core interests and developing sales, business management and people management skills.

Outline your career to date?

Prior to my current position with Gordon’s Chemists, I was an account manager with Clinique cosmetics for 17 years. In a semi career break I spent a further 10 years working part time as a cosmetic supervisor within Debenhams. It was during this period that I also acted as regional co-ordinator for Look Good Feel Better charity across Northern Ireland.  Prior to my current role and returning to a full time post I spent nearly three years as a counter manager for Clarins.

Tell us about your qualifications/training.

Apart from the usual academics I have pursued a life long learning approach in all aspects of my career - in short, I attend many courses. I am always keen to sharpen core competencies in best practice, customer service, marketing, merchandising and business strategies etc.

What qualities are required for your job - personal and professional?

Having been in management for many years I have had to nurture and develop a wide range of qualities and core skills. These include a frontline and comprehensive knowledge of the cosmetics industry, strong management skills across all levels, an ability to resolve grassroots problems whilst keeping a clear strategic perspective. On a more personal note I have drawn on my natural people skills, strong organisational skills and an absolute belief that success follows hard work.

What is the best advice you ever received?

Inspect what you expect.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Quality family time, blow off steam in the gym, reading and/or a good movie.

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.

I am a vegetarian who lives in a house with two carnivores!

Who has inspired you most in your life?

My husband… he has his faults but he never falters in his attitude and positive outlook on life.



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