150804 01 E PULLHAM Jess Carvin Gore 03

Seven years ago in Victoria, Australia, Jess Pulham was in her final year at high school trying to figure out what she’d like to do with her life. She was anxious to make the right choice and says following her friends to university seemed the only option.

But her decision to go in a different direction turned out a lot better than she could ever have imagined.

Jess started a traineeship with an accountancy firm, then, moving to New Zealand at age 18, started her retail career as an assistant at Carvin Streetwear fashion boutique, in Gore.

Boutique owner Chanelle Purser, could see her potential and signed Jess up for ServiceIQ formal on-job retail training. It was an ideal opportunity to earn as she learned. Over several years, she achieved several recognised retail qualifications, including a NZ Certificate in Retail (Level 4) which gave her the skills she needed to step up to a management role.

In her third year at the popular store, Jess was nominated as a regional finalist in New Zealand’s Top Shop Awards. Twelve months later she was nominated again and this time she took out the ultimate prize, ServiceIQ Retail Professional of the Year Award 2015 at the glittering event in Christchurch.    

Looking back on her early decision to earn and learn on the job, she encourages others to get a job they enjoy and upskill to qualify.   

“I got a job, gained my ServiceIQ qualifications. I won the award. At 25, I’m running the store and one day I’d like to own my own,” says Jess. “It’s was the right move for me and all my friends who went off to university think what I’ve achieved is awesome.”

Last year, Chanelle handed the store’s leadership to Jess who relishes the challenge of managing staff, rosters, banking, budgeting, wages, accounts, merchandising, marketing and buying new stock.

Apart from increasing her skills, knowledge and confidence, one of the most important things training taught her that she still uses today is how to manage staff and more difficult customers.

It also gave her a deeper understanding of legislation and how to apply it to the business.

In fact,  she has rewritten important parts of legislation in plain English and made a poster for the staff room to make sure everything is done by the book.

Jess agrees skilled staff are vital for business reputation and success.  

“Staff are everything. Service is our number one offer. If you get something wrong, ten people are going to hear about it in the space of half an hour,” she says.

She absolutely believes in the value of on-job training. She has one full-time staff member who completed NZ Certificate in Retail (level 2) last year and who is looking at going on to Level 3.

“I was her verifier which also turned out to be a good way for me to refresh my knowledge,” says Jess.

Jess is keen to acknowledge the part her employer played in her success.

“Chanelle has also done a lot for me. She gave me the job, put me through the ServiceIQ qualification programmes and supported me for the Professional Retailer of the Year Award,” she says.   

Though she loves buying the new season clothing ranges, the most important and enjoyable part of the job comes down to satisfied customers: “That’s why I love the week before Christmas when everyone needs your help,” says Jess    

Her biggest challenge facing the business today is keeping up with social media.

“We must update Facebook and Twitter every day to let customers know we’ve got the stock otherwise they’ll buy it online. It’s also important to keep up with customer service. It’s easier in a small community like Gore where you get to know customers well.”

Find out more about ServiceIQ's Retail qualifications here

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