Interview: Sophie Akben, Area Manager at ASICS UK

Working in the fashion industry is an important topic covered by FashionUnited. Through a series of interviews, we would like to show how versatile the industry can be and introduce professionals currently working in fashion. Recently, we have spoken with Sophie Akben from ASICS UK, who informed FashionUnited more about her role as Area Manager.

What does your typical workday look like?

The beauty of being an Area Manager is that each day can look very different depending on the needs of the business. An ideal day would start with reviewing the previous days business, championing successes and working on addressing opportunity areas. Depending on the day, it would include store visits and possibly recruitment, interviews and touching base with HQ partners such as Buying and Merchandising to plan upcoming quarters and events.

What do you like most about your job?

The best part of my job is the people, I interact with so many different people from all over the world - I’m never bored! ASICS as an organization has a very diverse team of individuals and cultures and everyone brings something different to the table.

Interview: Sophie Akben, Area Manager at ASICS UK

What is necessary/important to become an Area Manager of Retail Operations at ASICS UK?

You really must be positive and solution based. The fashion retail landscape is always changing and so are the needs of the clients, employees and business. Personally, it is important where you work, but also who you work for. I actively seek out organizations where the leadership team demonstrates integrity, and the ability to find a mentor and also be a mentor. Being able to give and receive constructive criticism is vital to your growth into an upper management position.

Did you always want to work in the fashion industry?

Originally, it was the retail culture and the way the brands treated their employees that drew me to the fashion retail industry. I started my retail career years ago with a Canadian footwear brand, ALDO, that my uncle had worked with. With over 16 years of experience and having studied fashion merchandising, I’d say that I’ve really enjoyed working for all of the brands I’ve been part of so far.

If you wouldn't work for ASICS UK as an Area Manager of Retail Operations, which career path would you have chosen and why?

This is a far tangent, but like many young people, I also had the dream of being a popstar such as Beyoncé or Madonna. (Sidenote: I cannot sing whatsoever).

Which piece is a Must-Have in every closet?

I’d say the ASICS Mexico 66 is my go-to sneaker. I wear them for every occasion, at work and on the move. I have them in numerous colors.

Do you have any tips/recommendation for people who would like to work for ASICS UK? Is there a No-Go?

Find which aspect of the company you’d like to work in. At ASICS UK there are so many different parts to the business that suits every personality. You can work in retail, but also in tech, design or even wholesale.

What is the best advice you've ever received in your career?

It’s not about how you act on your best day, it’s how you are on your worst day. This is a challenging industry and when things get tough, one has to be realistic, honest yet remain optimistic and have integrity to pull through.

Tell us about the title, Area Manager of the Year 2017, how did you achieve it?

There has been a lot of growth the past 3 years at ASICS EMEA, with store openings, new concepts, implementation of new retail software and direct-to-customer functions. This award is to acknowledge the area managers and how we adapt to these changes in the business. I’d like to think that as the first recipient of this award, I led by never giving up, staying positive and together with my team, always proved to be results driven.

This article was created in cooperation with ASICS UK.

Learn more about ASICS UK as an employer? Click here to see their job offers in the UK.

Photos: courtesy of ASICS, ASICS GB website

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