These people started out working on the shop floor and now all have amazing jobs, still in retail

How a casual job can turn into a lifelong career.

While you love your job in retail, I’m guessing you’re wanting to take the next step in your career. I’m also guessing you have a lot of questions about where to head next.

How do I know this? Well, you clicked into this article, didn’t you?

So let’s get crackalacking. First up, here are three people with amazing jobs in the retail industry, so you can copy their career trajectories and make it big. Then I suggest reading this professional advice on taking those next career leaps.

Sunnies out kids, your future is looking bright.

Lisa Rogers – Rubi General Manager

Hi Lisa! Thanks for taking some time out for us. To start, tell us about your current (very impressive) role.  

I’m currently General Manager at Rubi. After 13 years working on the Cotton On brand, an opportunity arose to spearhead Rubi, and I jumped at the chance.

How did you get from the shop floor to being a total boss? 

I started as a retail assistant at a large Australian retailer, at 18 years old. I spent 10 years working the shop floor, which was an incredible induction into the retail industry and also an amazing life experience.

I went from a retail assistant to a 2IC position and then later into management roles. I ran smaller turnover stores, before moving to larger flagship stores and then onto regional roles. Last year, I moved into the GM role at Rubi and I love working with this brand.

What was working retail at Cotton On like? 

When I worked in retail, Cotton On was a smaller business than the one we see today. Back then, we were all generalists and taking on a lot, at a very young age. The business really trusted us and we were given a great deal of autonomy. It was fun, fast and a pretty incredible place to grow up. And it’s just as fast-paced and fun today.

I travelled all over Australia and the world, to places I had never (and mightn’t ever) have had the chance to visit.

How did you take that next step? 

I think it was all about being humble in my approach and working hard. Each step came with time, when I was ready and when it was right for the business.

What skills have you taken from your early days that help you now?

People skills, retail provides incredible life skills. You’re connecting with team members and customers, and are accountable for big results. These skills can set you up for life, whether you’re a stay-at-home parent running the family home and finances, or working in a corporate career.

What sort of jobs can we be thinking about? 

A retail career can take you anywhere at the Cotton On Group as we have such a broad mix of roles within the business. From Graphic Designers and Art Directors working on our campaigns and packaging, to the Property team who is working on our store design or leasing, or our Cotton On Foundation charity… there are so many different career paths.


Tatum Thirgood – Cotton On Women’s VM Specialist, USA

Hello Tatum! Tell us about your role at Cotton on.

I’m currently working as a Visual Merchandising Specialist for USA Women’s, but I’m actually starting a new role in two weeks as Store Experience Manager for Licensing (Middle East, Philippines and Indonesia) and I’m beyond excited!

So how did you get from the shop floor to growing an international career? 

My journey started 17 years ago when I walked into a Cotton On store on Chapel Street and asked if they had any jobs available.

From my gig as a part-time sales assistant, I moved my way up quite quickly to full-time and store management. Back in those days, there was a very small VM department, and we had a lot of freedom to change things up in our stores. This experience led me to my true passion that is visual merchandising.

Once I knew this was the path I wanted to follow, I moved into field VM and then the VM department at our head office in Geelong. I spent four years at head office, creating VM direction for the men’s, women’s and accessory departments for Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Eight years ago, I was asked to relocate to the LA, where I supported field, opened stores all over the country and was in charge of local market adjustments.

I just recently moved home in January where I’m working as women’s VM specialist for the US, and in just seven months, I’ve had another amazing opportunity come up as Store Experience Manager for Licensing. There is always plenty of opportunity to grow!

What skills have you taken from your first retail gig that help you now? 

Time management, leadership skills and most importantly, a deep understanding of how our business works. I’m very aware that every change or decision can impact our retail team and this helps me do my job with greater effectiveness and empathy.


Kelly Voerman – Typo Area Manager, Victoria

Hi Kelly! Thanks for chatting with us. Tell us about your role please.  

I’m currently an Area Manager for Typo, looking after stores across Victoria and Tasmania. I’ve always loved retail, and I started with Typo ultimately looking to get into product design in an inspired space.

So how did you get to be Area Manager?

I started as a 2IC in our CBD store in 2010. Since then I’ve been given the opportunity to move into multiple store management roles and step into an Area Management role that has taken me to four different states across Australia.

What skills have you taken from your first retail gig that help you now?

There are so many! The ability to create strong Visual Merchandising statements, merchant thinking and understanding financial contributors. I’ve also learnt how to communicate with many different personalities.

So what sort of careers can we be thinking about? 

You can literally go anywhere. I’ve had Christmas casuals step into senior design roles, seen store managers go into Area Management Roles and Casual team members who have graduated their finance degree, stepping into our Finance and Planning Internships.

Any advice for any retail workers wanting to take that next step?

Your personal brand is just as important as the brand you work for, so be open to different opportunities that will develop your skill-set.

Cotton On Group is now hiring retail managers nationally, with plenty of opportunities to grow. Click here to apply.

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