Jo Osborne, Concessions and Beauty Director is the perfect example of working your way to the top. Having started in our business as a Personal Assistant in 2002, Jo now heads up the concessions & beauty buying department. She discusses growing through the ranks.

Tell us about your career journey? 
I started as a career trainee in Harrods, in September 1998, after having initially applied to Harvey Nichols to see whether they had an apprenticeship scheme - sadly they didn't, but I'm delighted to see that's changed!

The retail industry has some amazing people, my first boss at Harrods was Simon Youden, now General Manager of the Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge store. I had the opportunity to work across a number of departments in Harrods including Interior Design and one of my most memorable roles was when I was appointed as Paul Finucane’s PA, who is now on the Board of Harvey Nichols.

In 2002, I moved to Harvey Nichols and became the PA to Daniela Rinaldi, controller for perfumery and concessions at the time. After 2.5 years I made the tough decision to leave HN and become a Sales Executive for British American Tobacco, but I missed Harvey Nichols a lot. The perfumery team and I spoke and met a lot, so I made the decision that I wanted my career to be back at Harvey Nichols.  I applied for the role as a Concessions Coordinator and that’s where my career in concessions started. I grew through the ranks and took on sunglass buying as well. I continued to grow and six years ago I was asked to add beauty buying to my portfolio. Here I am now, as Concessions & Beauty Director.

What’s your role all about?
My role is to drive the Harvey Nichols business, sourcing new exciting brands across both beauty and concessions. Harvey Nichols has a rich heritage with launching new exclusive brands, which as a team we have continued to do so. We work closely with the stores and buying to discuss trade, teams, brands and what we can do better. The team and I work closely with the Marketing and Events team to ensure we offer the best to brands to create amazing opportunities for them to both partner with HN and stand out across the retail industry. We want to create something truly exciting for the customer to both entertain and ensure they purchase and keep HN at the forefront.

What’s your opinion on your job?
It’s an absolutely amazing job! It’s a bit manic and involves spinning different plates, but I get to work with a fabulous team that supports me so well. It’s a pleasure to secure and trade such amazing brands. At Harvey Nichols we do things differently and everyone wants to deliver the same kind of buzz with the same high energy level. We are all about retailtainment and doing things first – that’s what we’ve always been known for. 

What advice do you have for others wanting to work their way up? 
Work hard! Also care about what you do; only do something that you love and inspires you, then it will never feel like work. Regardless of what role you are in you need to help each other out and inspire one another. If you want to make it in beauty buying in particular, realise that it’s not only about the look and feel of the product, but there’s also so much more to it, in particular the numbers and ensuring margin is our focus.

What’s the best perk of your job?
I get to meet some incredible, inspirational people in the industry. Beauty is constantly changing and involving, with a particular emphasis on wellbeing. Being a part of the launch for Fenty was incredible. Everyone across HN came together to deliver something really unique, which retailers and customers still talk about nearly a year on.

Tell us about your work for the CEW board?
I'm a member of the CEW board, which drives the beauty industry for the UK and women as a whole. We have a board meeting every quarter and they have amazing events to attend for anyone within the beauty industry. During these events they will talk about trends and offer support for people in their beauty careers. Through my position on this board I get to meet some great names in the industry. So much of what we do is about education.

What’s the most challenging and most satisfying about your role?
Seeing the brands coming to life both online and in-store is very satisfying to me because it takes a lot of work and time to launch a product. Challenging can be working with the brands and convincing them why they should launch with us and what makes Harvey Nichols unique because there is a lot of competition out there, but luckily we really have our own personality.

Where do you see your career taking you in 5 years time?
I am pretty new in my role currently and constantly learning. I love being a part of HN and look forward to the new journey!

Are you interested in working in beauty buying? We are now recruiting for a Beauty Buyer. Find out more here!