Group Director of People & Culture, Primark
Mornings begin bright and early for Lorraine Culligan, Group Director of People & Culture at Primark. Below she gives us an insight into what one of her days is like working for Primark, which could consist of anything from discussing progress on initiatives including the ‘Primark Cares’ agenda or attending key meetings…
Morning - 5:45am
I am a morning person and enjoy getting up and out early and am usually on the road by 5:45am, going to our head office, Arthur Ryan House, in Dublin City Centre. Over the past 18 months, we have spent more time working from home and on Teams calls, but for me, you can’t beat being in the business, either in our offices or out in stores.
My day begins with a fitness class with our on-site provider FitVision. We are lucky enough to have classes in our head office and starting my day in this way gives me the energy I need.
Wellbeing is a key priority for us as a business and exercise is a very important aspect of my own personal wellbeing too. I try to walk the walk / set an example and hope colleagues will feel they can make time for their own wellbeing during the working day too.
By 8am I am normally at my desk with my breakfast and a cup of tea ready to tackle the day. A typical morning can consist of video calls (a lot more in recent times than we are all used to) but every day is different and varied which is part of what I love about my job. No two days are the same and although I might have a plan for the day, a huge part of my role is being available to people which can change the course of a day as and when needed.
As our people leader, a focus on commercials and understanding our business is a key priority for me, ensuring that we are relating everything back to our colleagues and customers. With over 70,000 colleagues across 14 markets, and notwithstanding the current challenges the Covid-19 pandemic poses, it is important to remain agile and up-to-speed on the continually changing retail environment. Key meetings are varied on a weekly basis and include a trade call early in the week, to assess our store activity and sales trends across our markets. I am currently planning my travel for the next few months which will involve trips to the USA, Poland and Italy.
Our people agenda centres around our ‘People First, Keep It Simple’ purpose. Each day as a team we work to ensure our people-first approach is part of everything we do. Our People & Culture Leadership Team strive to ensure care and empathy are front and centre to our decision-making and we meet regularly to align our strategy to meet the changing needs of our business. Currently, top of mind for us are the outputs of our recent Colleague Survey and a focus on health and wellbeing.
Our people agenda centres around our ‘People First, Keep It Simple’ purpose
Lunch - 12pm
In our office, we are lucky to have The Courtyard which is an open space centred around meals and informal meetings. This is a great space for community and is often where I’d get to know some new faces by saying hello to our new starters or catching up with colleagues I haven’t seen in a while.
I really believe that listening to our people is the only way to ensure our people agenda remains relevant and meets the needs of our colleagues. I make it a priority to meet with colleagues over lunch to stay connected with what’s going on in their business area. I find a casual conversation like this is often where I gain the most insight.
In our office, we are lucky to have The Courtyard which is an open space centred around meals and informal meetings
Afternoon - 1pm
Afternoons usually involve leadership team meetings to discuss progress on important initiatives such as our ‘Primark Cares’ agenda as we work to make more sustainable fashion affordable for everyone.
I scan my emails between meetings to check for anything urgent. I make a point of ignoring all emails while I am in meetings (if something is that urgent someone would call me) as I think it’s really important to be present with the person I’m meeting with and give them my full attention. I find this particularly important since we moved to more meetings remotely rather than face-to-face as it’s much easier to get distracted when you’re not in the same room.
In the afternoons I spend time catching up with people within the business
I also try to leave space in my diary every day so I can be available to meet colleagues as and when the need arises. In a business our size, there is always something going on that needs my attention last minute. I also think you can’t underestimate the power of a handwritten card, offering support, encouragement, congratulations, or just to remind colleagues they are part of the Primark family, and I always carve out time in my day for this.
Evening - 7pm
In Primark we are fortunate to have our flexible way of working, ‘Your Day, Your Way’, so my days can start and finish at different times. On a Friday, we have a flexible 2pm finish and that can make a big difference to the shape of the week and keeping that balance. That being said, our stores are open seven days a week and I need to be flexible in my approach to offer support where required.
A typical evening for me consists of homework with my two daughters and I try to include something to wind down. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to spend less time on my phone and read a book instead in the evenings, it is so important to fuel the mind and body!
End of the day