Lucy Swinburn – Homepage

The breadth of experience has helped me progress. If you push yourself, you’ll never get bored!

Ben Carrington – Homepage

At WHSmith you are given huge autonomy, the opportunity to shape your career, make a difference and deal with any challenges head on.

Toby Keir – Hompage

To succeed, you have to be capable of driving the WHSmith agenda. Take ownership. Make a difference. Think customer.

Deb Proud – Homepage

Throughout my career, people have supported my progression. You don’t need qualifications to advance – you just need self-belief.

I joined five years ago on a temporary contract after completing my degree. I’m now Marketing Manager for Funky Pigeon. Although I didn’t have ecommerce or advertising experience, the business believed in me and gave me the opportunity. I love the responsibility and autonomy my role brings; there’s a fresh challenge every day. Funky Pigeon is an up-and-coming part of the business, so there’s always room to grow.

In Marketing, there are people with many different skills. You get to gain exposure to different roles and the opportunity to learn from the best. You need to work hard, but there’s a real team environment – everyone’s pulling together. The opportunities are there, you just need to show that you’re willing to stretch yourself!

I joined WHSmith as a Christmas temp. I stayed on when my contract ended and continued to work for the business while I studied. I graduated with a degree in French and Spanish, and then accepted a place on WHSmith’s Store Management Programme. Within a few months I was offered the perfect role: Assistant Manager of Alicante Airport stores. I returned to the UK in 1998 and worked my way up to Head of Business Development (Europe and America). I believe WHSmith nurtures its people. If you show loyalty and the desire to progress, the career opportunities are made available to you. Anyone joining WHSmith needs to be resilient and happy to work in a fast-paced, ever-changing environment.

I joined in 2013 as a Senior Buyer. I soon identified a growth area, leading to the creation of our Food to Go concept. This strategic, commercial win raised my profile, including with our CEO. We trialled four new ‘look-and-feel’ stores, and saw a 40% sales uplift, resulting in a full rollout. It felt good to be trusted to try something new.

After being promoted to Trading Controller, I developed our own-label coffee shop brand and was ecstatic when we saw a 45% sales increase.

In my recently appointed business development role, I source and secure new initiatives and sites, and am involved in high profile projects, including leading our stores of the future concept for airports and the new M&S Food to Go concept. So far the role’s been tough, but highly rewarding!

I joined in 1993 on a graduate scheme. I spent three years as a Regional Sales Manager in the News Distribution business, before joining our Travel business in the News category. I found retail exciting – you can measure results instantly. From here, I became a Commercial Manager and by 28, I was the Commercial Director for the Travel business. I secured some significant deals which got me noticed and I was asked to become the Business Unit Director for News, Entertainment & Impulse (High Street). Following maternity leave, I became the Business Unit Director for Books, before moving to head up the Stationery business three years ago. I love running business units; creating the customer offer; building supplier relationships and securing deals.

On joining the High Street Graduate Programme in 2009, I spent six months with the Marketing team, before being given a great opportunity to move into the Space & Format function. There I supported international projects, like the opening of our first franchise store in India. With the help of my mentor and support from the wider business, I progressed quickly and spent two years in an international project management role. From that experience I went on to influence how we looked at space planning in the UK, leading to me being promoted to Space Planning Manager in 2012.
Subsequently, the business has helped me transition sideways to a career in Buying. At WHSmith you are given huge autonomy, the opportunity to shape your career, make a difference and deal with any challenges head on.

I relocated to become Senior Buyer for the new WHSmith Qatar business. I set up our trading department, identified suppliers, negotiated terms and got to know the local market. It was challenging selling to suppliers who didn’t know the brand, I had to build trust to secure competitive terms. Strong communication with multiple nationalities and understanding their product base were key. Opening our first stores on time gave me a great feeling of fulfilment.

In 2015 I was promoted to Trading Controller, focussed on really establishing the brand and gaining further confidence from suppliers. The following year I was promoted to General Manager, which made me feel accomplished and proud that my efforts had been recognised. As part of WHSmith International you have the freedom to treat the business as your own.