11 Sep 2014

Here I am at the end of the week at The Oxford Summer School, looking happy and completely exhausted.

As I arrived at Keble College I looked around in awe, the view that greets you as you enter the quadrant is impressive. You find yourself surrounded by a serene beautiful set of buildings with the Chapel and lawns spread in front of you, making for one of those sharp ‘intake of breath’ moments and I have to say I felt like pinching myself. For a girl from Wigan, (where there is no Pier!) I felt this was the pinnacle of my journey so far.

The organisation was superb and we were quickly organised into small groups and allocated our room keys, identity badges and all necessary equipment: books ,bags and maps, needed for the week.
We sat nervously a short time later in formal business dress in the Lecture Theatre, surrounded by Retail Professionals of varying ages from a large selection of Retail Companies. We listened to the school officially declared open, and I wondered what the week would hold.
From this point on, every second of every minute of every day was taken up with, listening, learning, practising, interacting and lots of changing of clothes! 
To say that I experienced both the worst and the best week of my life is absolutely true and it is very difficult to put into words how much you can take from this incredible course – I have to make reference to my sponsor here and a huge thank you to The Mall Corporation and their Retail Factor competition that gave me the opportunity to attend here. 
As you would expect, the standard of the course content was very high and you are exposed to real life challenges that you face when running a retail business.  Dealing with all aspects of people; merchandising, money, marketing (the one I particularly enjoyed) and space planning. The specialists that visit the school during the week are inspirational and informative and it was a privilege to have the chance to listen to these people. The course is designed to draw these skills out of you and there was more than one occasion when I felt very challenged, but the strength you draw from inside yourself allows you the chance to develop in a safe environment, and if you do push yourself the rewards that you gain make you feel fantastic by the end of the week!  
There were ups and downs, tears and laughter and very, very tough tasks – such as singing in the Karaoke night, definitely a personal challenge from someone tone deaf! The week rolled by in a wonderful sweep of lectures, and I listened, practised and learned within surroundings that made you feel like you had stumbled into the set of Harry Potter. A personal highlight of my week (and there were so many) was listening to the sermon in the Chapel on Sunday morning, an oasis of calm and a moment to enjoy a beautiful rendition of The Irish Blessing that rounded off a lovely service. 
I could rattle on about merchandising, finance, marketing and all those absolutely necessary skills that we all need to run a successful business and develop and move forward in the future, but this is a personal glimpse of my experience. Before I say bye for now I would like to express a huge thank you to everyone at The Oxford Summer School for a week that has met my personal objectives and enabled me to learn new skills and given me the confidence to continue on my journey of developing, producing and bringing a new product to market.
p.s A great big shout out to Group 17 and our Group Director Tom, and other fab team members, KK (Kathryn), Natalie, Donna, Rocia, Jacob, Evonne and James (aka The HeeBee Geebies!)
  
Oxford Summer School

This week I was enriched with the tapestry of your lives.
This week I have fought back tears of anxiety with feelings of fear for the new and unknown.
This week I have sought solace in the Chapel.
This week I have sung without the fear of being heard.
This week there has been a shift inside me that has opened a new door.
This week my screen size has increased from a Commodore Pet to a 50” Samsung.
This week I had the courage of a child to play a game long forgotten
“I’ll be the catcher! Turn around and fall”
I turned around and fell and you caught me.

Sue Seddon

Kease Keyring

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