PiRA24 Judge Interview: Sean Ghouse, Fortnum & Mason
Meet Sean Ghouse, the UK Retail Director for Fortnum & Mason and a seasoned retail professional with almost 30 years of experience.
Sean’s journey started part-time at Ciro Citterio on Regent Street while pursuing a BA in HR & Psychology. His rich career includes pivotal roles at Harrods, NikeTown London, Matches Fashion.com, and Dunhill’s flagship in Mayfair. Sean, is now actively involved in various industry roles, championing the next generation of retail talent. As a judge for the 2024 People in Retail Awards, Sean brings a wealth of experience and a people-centric approach to the judging panel.
What inspired you to become a judge for the People in Retail Awards?
Retail has always been an amazing fusion of culture, talent and diversity. My inspiration stems from the realisation that recognising and celebrating the efforts of those on the shop floor, particularly in the wake of COVID, is more crucial than ever. The value that retail employees bring to providing a meaningful physical shopping experience is so important and these awards offer a unique opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the diverse and hardworking retail community.
In your opinion, what role do awards like this play in the retail industry, and why do you think they are important?
Awards like these play a pivotal role in highlighting the significance of people within the physical shopping experience. They bring attention to the teams that contribute to creating a positive and engaging environment for customers. Recognising excellence in retail is not just about acknowledging individual or team achievements; it’s about celebrating the collective effort that goes into delivering exceptional service and maintaining the psychological importance of in-person shopping.
Can you share an experience from your career in retail that exemplifies the significance of recognizing excellence in the industry?
Reflecting on a transformative period early in my career, transitioning from High Street to luxury retail, my time at Harrods was truly defining. This experience marked not only a shift in the retail landscape but a personal realisation of the intricate workings of luxury retail.
Starting while studying, I later decided to dive deeper into a retail career. Joining Harrods as a young manager, I found it to be an ideal environment to understand the nuances of luxury retail. This experience was instrumental in shaping my understanding of what it takes to operate in a luxury setting and the collaborative effort required across diverse teams.
Working closely with key stakeholder operational partners and their teams in a department store, I grasped the importance of a collective approach to achieving common goals. This episode became a cornerstone in my career, influencing my perspective on recognising and celebrating excellence in the retail industry. It underscored the significance of teamwork, collaboration, and the dedicated efforts of individuals and teams in creating exceptional retail experiences. This foundation I have taken with me in many roles where I actively drive a collaborative work approach through my teams.
What criteria or qualities are you particularly looking for when evaluating nominations for the People in Retail Awards?
When evaluating nominations, I’ll be looking at the underlying culture of the teams, their ability to come together, and individual contributions. I’m looking for examples that go above-and-beyond the standard job responsibilities and a demonstrated commitment to execution at the highest level of detail.
I’m also big on passion. I look for passion in everything that I do and that extends to my teams. I love to see someone’s passion to do more, to grow, to learn. Often that passion pushes them to the next level, so I’ll certainly be looking for those glimmers of enthusiasm and inspiration.
Any top tips for those looking to enter these Awards?
My advice for potential nominees is to keep the main things in focus. In retail, delivering an exceptional customer experience, nurturing high-performance teams, and constantly looking for ways to enhance and develop retail capabilities are fundamental. By prioritising these aspects, one not only produces great work, but also inspires those around them to strive for excellence.