Lululemon director of retail and community Alex Shaughnessy shares how she has helped build the brand up in the ANZ market.

What is your day to day role?

My role is a dynamic generalist role. I spend most of my time with people, which I love. I am accountable to all stores across Australia and New Zealand, driving the retail initiatives – everything from guest experience, recruitment, people development, community relationships, real estate, and product management. My main job is to ensure we are creating the best experiences for our guests, our people and our community. I also work with every department collaboratively to drive future initiatives to ensure we are ready for what’s ahead and have the right people on board to get there.

What is an initiative you have worked on that you are most proud of?

In my 12 years at lululemon there have been so many. Starting the brand in New Zealand in 2011 is a stand out. Creating the national growth strategy, fostering key relationships on the ground, and seeing it come to life through 11 showroom and store openings to date – this has been a major highlight for me. The best part of this initiative is that it is our profitable business down under, and it keeps getting better as we mature in the market.

What is the most challenging aspect of your role?

One of the greatest challenges in the AUNZ retail industry is that retail isn’t seen as a career, and we are working to change that. lululemon Store Manager roles are quite different – the title doesn’t match what our people do every day. They are business entrepreneurs and community creators. Once our people realise this, they are hooked. We are continuously creating initiatives and development tools to engage our people and keep them inspired to grow further and stay within the retail sector.

What is the most rewarding?

The autonomy I have in ideating and creating game-changing initiatives with phenomenal people lights me up. To see a project come to life, have our stores adopt them as their own, and then continue to elevate them is rewarding to watch. I also love coaching our leaders on their business strategies – supporting our people to take their entrepreneurial ideas to the next level is inspiring.

What do you see as the biggest change coming for fashion retail?

How people shop and where people shop is changing. People are moving towards an active and mindful lifestyle; they want new ways to shop that work for them. Retailers will have to be much more flexible in how they respond to these needs. This speaks to the rising trend of customisation too – people will get what they want, where they want it and we need to be agile in response.

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