A day in the life of… Rebecca Harrison

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The many hats of a president, parent and business owner

Rebecca Harrison has ‘many hats.’ She is mum to a six-year-old daughter, owns and runs Fishers department store in Newtownmountkennedy, and this year she has become the president of Network Ireland, Ireland’s longest established organisation for women in business. Here, she shares a day in her life.

“I don’t have an alarm clock. I have a six-year-old daughter, Emily, a human alarm clock and she tends to pitch up at my bedside around 7am. I’m not a morning person but I’ve become one by necessity. We have breakfast together and a bit of playtime. I’m a single mum, so Emily will generally FaceTime her dad while I unload the dishwasher and do a few jobs around the house. They have that time pretty much every morning, which I think is really important.”

“I drop Emily into school and I’m at Fishers by 9am or before it. “My office is above the shop, but once I arrive I’ll go downstairs to open up and touch base with the staff. I generally check my emails on my phone on the way in, so I’ll know if there’s anything urgent. Once back at my desk I tend to make a daily to-do list. e shop doesn’t open until 10am so I’ll do some office work, like paperwork, emails, payments to suppliers, before people start arriving.”

“We do a series of fashion shows throughout the year and we have about nine or ten each season, so I prepare for those on a regular basis. Once a week I meet with the shop managers and either they or I will meet with the staff each morning. We have a review
of the previous week and a preview of the week ahead. In these meetings we look
at things like sales figures, merchandising, stock control, events and how the team is doing. For the café we do a similar review with the head chef, looking at menus, sales targets and the staff.”

“I’m very proud that we employ 30 people between Fishers and Food at Fishers, but because I’m the owner the buck stops with me. So I do everything from making strategic decisions about
the future of the business to changing the loo seat if it’s broken! My role requires me to keep on top of a lot of areas such as, buying and selecting which items to stock, although I will work with a member of each department when doing so. Human Relations, hiring, training, dealing with any queries, setting rewards
and incentives, finance, property management, event management, stock control, planning and strategy, marketing. I work with one of my staff on this and we have a PR consultant too.”

“I tend not to take a lunch hour. Particularly if we have a fashion show because the shop is busy until about 2pm, so around that time when things have calmed down a little bit I will take a break and have something to eat in the café we have in the store. My afternoons vary hugely, but generally that’s when I get some time to focus on my Network Ireland role and
I’ll spend a couple of hours on it each day. I really enjoy it because I love connecting people; introducing them
to each other and seeing a real connection or business collaboration happening. Network Ireland works very closely with other organisations and there are lots of conference calls and meetings and events to organise. It’s a voluntary role, so it’s because of my team’s support and also my sister Charlie who has recently joined the business, that I have been able to take it on.”

“Working in Fishers, it’s fantastic to be dealing with beautiful things. e shop closes at about 5.30pm and I will collect Emily for about 6pm. Having her has enforced a ‘stop working’ time, which is brilliant. My time with Emily is not a huge amount, but it’s quality time in the morning and evening. I tend to postpone paperwork or computer work until after Emily goes to bed and I can work from home on it a few nights a week.”

“Normally at night I’ll
do the housework and I’ll watch some TV or a box set, very often I’ll admit that it’s with a laptop on my knee. I knew taking on the Network Ireland role that I would have to give extra time to it so I’m very happy to work in the evenings. I do make sure to take time out for friends, family and myself too.”

Michelle Newman