Derrick Campbell is the CEO of Lyle & Scott, one of the leading high street fashion brands in the UK and Europe. In conjunction with RetailChoice.com, Derrick spoke to the Fashion Careers Clinic about his experience as the CEO of a fast growing brand and what it takes to succeed in fashion jobs.
Tell us about your early career path - how and where did you start out?
As a linguist graduate from Edinburgh University and I was then recruited within the Courtaulds Textile Graduate scheme.
And in more recent years, which companies did you work with before Lyle & Scott?
I have been employed by Lyle and Scott for over 30 years.
What attracted you to the Lyle & Scott brand?
The possibility of using languages and the fact the company worked worldwide.
How has the company changed and developed under your direction? Any new initiatives you are particularly proud of?
The company has become profitable and tripled in size over the past five years since becoming MD, and has been recognised as a brand worthy of a worldwide direction.
What is it about the fashion industry that motivates you, and what would you be doing if you didn't work in fashion?
The pace at which the fashion industry works, outside of that I am passionately interested in anything that is creative!
What advice would you give to others in retail management who are looking to move roles? In your opinion is it more important to be driven by the product, the brand, or the salary/package?
You need to have a passion in what you believe in regardless of what sector of the industry you decide to be in!
As the CEO of Lyle & Scott, what is the most difficult aspect of your job and of operating at such a senior level?
And what aspects of the role give you the greatest satisfaction?
Seeing other people achieving the same passion as I do on the basis that it is under the same company objectives that we are driving towards.
What advice would you give to those looking to get into the fashion industry - what do you wish someone had told you when you were starting out?
That it never gets any easier no matter what you achieve!
In your opinion, is it essential these days for young people to gain a degree in fashion if they want to succeed in retail management, or is it more important to gain hands-on experience on the shop-floor?
I think it is important to get a great degree in any area that interests you then you can start to apply your skills to the industry.
As we all know, it's tough out there for recent graduates. Tell us more about how your company supports new talent - what does your Graduate Scheme involve and who is eligible for it?
We currently operate the Harris Watson scheme and have taken on a number of graduates who are rotated every three months throughout the group. This allows them personal experience within each of the companies and for the MD’s involved to take a view to see if there is a place for an offer of recruitment within the company they are responsible for to be made.
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