How did you get to where you are today?

I started as a customer service assistant with United Co-operatives in 1991 at Ashton Road Late Shop in Hyde, progressing to Sunday supervisor then store manager in 1994. Since then I have worked at several stores around the Stockport and Manchester area before being promoted to the position of area manager in January 2006.

What was the best decision you have made in your career and why?

Joining United and deciding to start a career with a company prepared to help and train me.

Do you have a mentor and how have they helped you in your career?

I have had several mentors over the years who have helped me reach the position I am in today. Karl Ward was my area manager for three years and actively encouraged me to pursue a career with United. More recently my mentor has been Andrew Coop, my group manager. He is always available and gives me endless support in my new role.

What is the most important piece of information you have ever been told?

That came from Stephen Hall, my regional operations manager, who said that before making any decision I am to ensure that the decision benefits both the company and the individual concerned in equal measure.

If you could change one thing in the grocery industry what would it be?

It would be the perception that others have of retail, in that it is not a desirable or rewarding career. I think it would benefit people inside and outside the industry if they had a better understanding and knowledge of what was involved in working in this sector.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Seeing achievement - whether that is by individual store managers or the region in general.

What is the one thing that you could not do your job without?

Support, whether it's from my store managers or from my colleagues and superiors.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry today?

Go for it - as retail is such a rewarding career. The sense of achievement you get, whether it's from something you control or whether it's from your team, is immeasurable.

What do you like doing when you are not working?

I enjoy going to the gym and swimming.

Where do you hope to be in five years' time?

I still see myself as an area manager with a lot more knowledge and experience, looking to progress to the next level.