I attended the Red Magazine #smartwomenweek event at John Lewis’s Oxford Street store this morning, starting at 8am I had to be on the 7:07am train to Charing Cross which I just about managed, with a full face of make up too. The #smartwomenweek is run in
conjunction with Clinique and this morning’s event was a Q&A with Karen Lord, the first ever female Head of Branch at Oxford Street. Karen has been with John Lewis for 18 years, since she graduated, and has worked her way up, unusually these days, through the ranks with the same employer. She was interesting and motivating and answered all the questions fired at her from the audience with warmth and candour.
I would say that the organisers missed a bit of a trick though really. The networking opportunities didn’t really deliver, we were late going in to JL and after Karen had finished it was left to the audience to filter out. It was also disappointing that having hinted as much in the publicity, the branch wasn’t prepared for the audience to shop even half an hour before opening time. Big mistake. Huge. 200 women, captive in an empty John Lewis store? I heard at least four enquiries about shopping on the way down from the top floor, all to be met with the response “the store doesn’t open until 9:30″. Yet there were staff on the shop floor and I’m sure it wouldn’t have hurt for the store to have offered this opportunity – especially since Karen had bigged up the newly opened C*******s department (her favourite thing).
The goodie bag was based on healthy food items and was so heavy it only just made it back to the office, however the sour cream and chive popcorn (94 cals) and Belgian chocolate covered rice cakes (120 cals for both!) came in very hand in the afternoon, more of which later…
After dropping the heaviest goodie bag in the world back at the office I went back to the Indian Visa centre AGAIN to collect the visas which should have been back Friday, but weren’t. I queued for a hour outside because it was so busy they weren’t letting anyone into the waiting room. Once inside there was a two hour wait for those applying for visas. When I pointed out the the (really helpful) man making the announcements outside he said as soon as I was IN the office I could go straight to the queue at desk 13. But until I was IN the office I had to remain in the queue. This was frustrating to say the least, especially when, having got to said desk, the guy behind it was just waiting for people to collect the visas from Friday…
Whilst I was queuing I was accompanied by two escapees from the Fast Show who asked me if I was the end of the queue for collecting visas. Once I committed to answering they informed me they were in “jam and chutney” and they were about to break into the Indian market. They thought it hilarious that they were taking chutney to India. They also asked whether they would be brought a “chapatti” whilst queuing. They asked me what I did, what the company did. I explained that as there were a lot of graduates working for us I sometimes felt like their mother. At which point one of them called me a “young looking bird”. I was mightily relieved to get to the front of the queue I can tell you .
This afternoon I went to the Office Live exhibition at Olympia. Olympia is the END OF THE WORLD to get to. Well, it feels like it. I got the tube to Shepherd’s Bush, I’ve never been before and was wondering whether to “add it to my fuckit list… ha ha ha…” when I realised that I was staring at the original Westfield Shopping Centre. Sadly I dragged myself onward to Olympia. Last year I went and just wandered round aimlessly and collected as many pens as I could. This year I only managed tw0 (one of which will go to Frankie, our receptionist cos she couldn’t come – I’m sorry Frankie that it wasn’t more impressive) however, this year I had an agenda. I knew I was looking for venue hire, taxis and social committee type activities. And travel management companies who will GET INDIAN VISAS FOR YOU *cough*
I kept an eye out for my ex colleagues but didn’t bump into anyone I knew.
I wandered into House of Fraser after I got back to Shepherd’s Bush. When I got to Westfield itself I just thought “my feet ache. It’s too big” and went home and walked the dog. WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?? I don’t know myself.
So tomorrow is excitingly a tweet up :) But I’ll tell you more about that if she doesn’t hate me…