Clare's Journey

My background

Fundamentally I’m a woman who has always loved to shop, so following university I trained with M&S, BHS, and Top Shop, in store management and Head Offices. I loved being close to customers, but commuting into London eventually lost its charm and I moved to a locally based mail order company whose in-house produced museum gift catalogues & campaigns ran as inserts in national newspapers – I joined a locally based supplier with a nationwide customer reach – the start of a familiar story?

When newly formed WH Smith Business Supplies located just down the road, I moved from buying gifts and fashion, to negotiating and purchasing Post-it notes and paperclips…. and who knew …. they turned out to be just as much fun!!...... and I’ve been in the world of Business Supplies ever since.

What has inspired me?

I’ve worked in a variety of organisations, from large and corporate, to small and entrepreneurial companies. I’ve progressed, been promoted, been made redundant, managed teams, supported acquisitions and guided complex IT integrations. I’ve been a buyer, a supplier, a customer, a detective, a problem solver, a project manager, a trainee, a trainer, and a mentor.

In all these organisations, situations, and roles there is one thing that has given me inspiration and purpose…. the truly great people I’ve had the privilege of working with, learning from, succeeding with, and sometimes failing with …. people with great ideas, teams who worked out how to make them happen and then… (mostly) made them happen.

Over the years I’ve worked with some very clever and inspiring people, some incredible hands-on people, some great entrepreneurial thinkers, and those who always go the extra mile to help. I’ve worked in some difficult situations, with teams battling through muck and bullets, and we’ve come out the other end smiling. Everyone I’ve worked with has taught me something new, given me a good reason to go into work every day, and I’ve made some valued friendships along the way.

Why Advantia?

I first met Advantia as a new customer with an innovative idea – reinventing the way Advantia’s members could access products and have them delivered to their Customers.

Dealers could take cost out of their businesses; become a stockless supplier, contract out deliveries to a company trained to represent the Dealer’s business as if it were their own, give access to customers operating on a nationwide basis, and allow Dealers to concentrate on sales and their customer’s needs.

Working with Advantia and all their members to turn that innovative idea into reality was both an immense education and an epic achievement. Each Dealer had their own concerns and needs, and I strived to make sure that every member got the very best from the solution. Overall, we were able to shape the model to benefit everyone within the Advantia Group.

Roll the clock forward and I had the opportunity to join Advantia – working for the Group, rather than being a supplier to the Group, and towards each Advantia member being my customer in a much wider, but much closer sense. It was an easy decision. Moving to a role within Advantia delivered all the inspiration I’d received - at various times, and in various places during my career - in one place - and all at once!

Our Advantia family are all passionate, all dedicated, all striving to find a way to differentiate their business. Across the spectrum they are entrepreneurial, hands on, have great ideas, need access to advice, have varying levels of IT and skills ability, demand the very best support…. and get it from a Head Office team who really get it!! – and I am proud to be one of the team who gets it - understanding my customer’s needs, and their customer’s needs - and can give that experience and expertise back, to help them move forward