A leading figure in retail has revealed how Coventry gave her a first taste for the industry as she returned to her home city to address county business leaders.
Jill Easterbrook, Coventrian and chief executive of international fashion brand Boden, was invited back to the city to give business leaders in the region an insight into her high-profile career.
And the former pupil of King Henry VIII School recalled how the experience of holiday jobs at branches of Marks & Spencer and KFC in the city, as well as shopping in Coventry Market, as a youngster sparked her interest in retail.
Her career started out in merchandising at Marks & Spencer and led to a number of high-profile positions at Tesco, including managing director of the company’s clothing division, prior to joining Boden as CEO.
More than 150 business leaders gathered at a Coventry and Warwickshire Champions event held at the University of Warwick to hear her join a stellar line-up of speakers.
Jill, who is also a non-executive director at Auto Trader, also gave an insight into challenges facing retail and shared the business lessons she has learned in a career at the top spanning some 25 years.
She said: “My experience of working and shopping in Coventry whilst growing up certainly sparked an interest in retail and led to me carving out a career in the sector.
“It has been a privilege to return to Coventry to be able to share my experiences and insights with business leaders in the area, and see the incredible changes taking place in the region.”
The event also heard from Russell Hardy, chairman of Nuffield Health and South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust, who outlined his career in healthcare, the challenges facing the sector and the Coventry and Warwickshire Year of Health and Wellbeing.
The speaker line-up also featured Ian Reid, CEO of Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, who discussed the region’s role in the Games with Leamington hosting bowls and Coventry hosting judo, rugby sevens and wrestling.
Les Ratcliffe, chair of the CW Place Board, said: “We are thrilled to have once again welcomed such a large number of the region’s business leaders to our CW Champions event.
“Alongside a fantastic line-up of speakers, it was great to hear from Doreen Foster, director of Warwick Arts Centre who gave an interesting update on the redevelopment of the Arts Centre and what visitors can expect.”