What It Takes To Succeed In Retail

Every workday is an opportunity to practice a positive attitude, cultivate skills and unlock your career potential
MRP Foundation Jump Start graduate, Micaela Miller, is a shining example of how a positive attitude and enthusiasm to embrace challenges are essential to climbing the retail career ladder.

Jump Start graduate, Micaela Miller, is a shining example of how a positive attitude and enthusiasm to embrace challenges are essential to climbing the retail career ladder. Micaela has just been promoted to Assistant Store Manager at Milady’s, Parow Centre, Cape Town. Image: Julian Goldswain / MRP Foundation


Working in the retail world is dynamic, exciting and filled with endless opportunities. Many agree that the key to establishing and building a successful a career in retail is powered by the mind: what you believe directly influences your attitude and shapes your actions in the workplace. Today’s employers are increasingly searching for high calibre candidates that possess attractive workplace qualities such as a good worth ethic, a positive attitude and a passion for the role. Whether you’re a school-leaver, graduate or hoping to progress to the next stage of your career; by keeping an open mind and seeing every job as an opportunity to learn something new, you can set yourself up for a retail career brimming with opportunities.

Your entry point is not your exit point

MRP Foundation believes in unlocking tomorrow’s potential and is investing in the next generation of talent through the Jump Start skills development programme. The work readiness programme instills a sense of pride and excitement in building careers, teaching that personal development is a lifelong lesson and every workday is an opportunity to cultivate skills and develop yourself.

Jump Start graduate, Micaela Miller, is a shining example of how a positive attitude and enthusiasm to embrace challenges are essential to climbing the retail ladder. The twenty-two-year-old has recently been promoted to an Assistant Store Manager at Milady’s at Parow Centre after her completing her Jump Start retail entry-level course in 2015.

Being empathetic, especially with customers, is a skill that she has learnt from the programme. She explains:

“Every situation is a learning curve. My manager has been my mentor in the workplace. I have learnt so much, just by observing her. You may feel as though you’re in a dark place, but stay motivated, grit your teeth and smile!”

For Linda Webster, Senior Programme Coordinator for the MRP Foundation’s Jump Start programme, her journey to a career began twenty-two years ago when she worked as a part-time associate in a mrp store. She would often learn from her manager, acquiring valuable retail skills and within a few short months she became the top sales associate.

She explained:

“There’s this expectation that because you’ve studied you can expect a job but this is absolutely not the case. Instead, your attitude will set you apart. I didn’t study after school and I learnt the ropes during my first job. In fact, I’m still learning.”

With decades of experience in the retail sector, the mother of three shares:

“The opportunities that are available in retail now did not exist when I started my journey and there are so many career paths to choose from. Once you have your foot in the door, and with the right attitude, the only way is up!”

Learn more about unlocking your potential in the retail world by reading Linda’s inspiring story here.

Experienced retailers share five tips to unlocking a positive career attitude

The difference between winners and losers is attitude

Radiate positivity. Be motivated, hungry and proactive and don’t forget to celebrate accomplishing the small tasks. Take initiative and whatever you do, do it well!

Behave professionally

Arrive to work on time, present yourself with pride and practice good etiquette. You will become more valuable to your team if you consistently act in a professional manner and prepare your mind for the workday.

Teamwork makes the dream work

Adopt a good work ethic by working harder than you’ve ever worked before. Take ownership of your role and be proud of the part you play in your team.

Graciously deal with disappointment

Don’t become disillusioned, aggressive or disrespectful if you’ve missed a promotion. Instead, try see disappointment as an opportunity to learn something new and respectfully ask your manager for feedback to better your chances next time.

The learning journey never stops

Stay curious and look for opportunities for personal and professional development. Learn as much as you can from mentors and managers to build your skills set, take part in free community courses or workplace studies and regularly practice the discipline of learning.

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