Paola Weir

What is your favourite memory of Malvern College?

Definitely the friendships made and being able to meet amazing people from all over the world - it truly helped broaden my horizons and my thinking. The friendships made in Malvern College will definitely last a lifetime and even though we all live in different countries, we still keep in touch.

What attracted you to your particular career and what do you enjoy most about it?

Buying is the perfect balance between creativity and commercial awareness. It started off as a passion for great design, particularly chairs. On my holidays, I would visit showrooms and discover designers such as Charles & Ray Eames. Little did I know, this is actually a form of competitor analysis which is key to Buying.

I enjoy the diversity and challenge of the job; how one day you could be discussing potential new products with a supplier and scouting contemporary trends, and other days you could be analysing sales and finding commercial opportunities. My favourite part of the job is developing products from our suppliers and seeing the financial success brought in as a direct result of my input. We work a year in advance, so it's rewarding to see customers respond positively to something you have developed from concept to store.

What part did Malvern College play in giving you the necessary skills for your chosen path?

Malvern College has one of the best Design & Technology departments with great access to technology such as laser cutters, 3D rendering software & machinery. We were allowed the opportunity to innovate & experiment as much as possible. Combined with the IB D&T programme, this led to a massive understanding of manufacturing, which is essential to understand how things are made, and challenge production with Far Eastern suppliers, without having to be in the actual factory.

Additionally, I had amazing tutors who really exposed me to the world of product design, and showed me that there were career opportunities in this field.

What are your ambitions?

To own my own homeware business with a focus on sustainable and ethical sourcing. I have an interest in how things are made and sustainability has become a passion of mine, specifically how to source materials sustainably. Over the last couple of years, there has been a big campaign to highlight the fast fashion impact on our environment, however, fast homeware isn't as well known but it's most definitely a trend with interiors taking center stage. It's crucial that some of the lessons we are learning from fashion translate into homeware and we keep craftsmanship alive.

What advice would you give to current pupils contemplating working in your field?

Gain as much work experience as you can, even if it's not in exactly the same job. I worked in an accountancy firm, real estate agency and shops before I landed my first buying job. However the skills are transferable which can make you stand out - creative problem solving, prioritisation and stakeholder management. It also gave me an outside perspective which helps me challenge the ‘norm’.

What advice would you give to current pupils about making the most of their time at Malvern College?

To get involved in as many co-curricular activities and try new things, you never know when you might discover your passion. Malvern College has a wide variety of options, from theatre and CCF to jewellery making. We all know the more conventional careers out there such as accountants and lawyers, but there is definitely a way to incorporate something you really love in your career. The tutors and teachers at Malvern College are very supportive & knowledgeable and will be able to guide or give you advice.