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London College of Fashion

Katie Baldwin

Profession
FP&A Reporting Analyst at Pentland Brands
College
London College of Fashion
Person Type
Alumni
Katie  Baldwin

Biography

Katie studied MSc International Fashion Management (now MSc Strategic Fashion Management) at London College of Fashion and graduated in 2017 with Distinction. She found that the statistical focus of the course was her true calling and now works as FP&A Reporting Analyst at Pentland Brands.

Interview

Why did you choose to study at LCF? What attracted you about this university?

LCF is a renowned fashion and business university, which I knew would be best suited to what I wanted to do. There was no other university that I wanted to be a part of.

Why did you decide to study the MSc International Fashion Management (now MSc Strategic Fashion Management)?

I was drawn by the fact that it was a really new course (I was the second or third year ever going into the course). I loved the thought that when I graduate, I would be one of few people with a degree like it. Another highlight was learning Mandarin – this is such a key language in business, and such a sought after skill. Lastly, the optional Diploma year was key in my decision; the opportunity to move and study in New York has given me some crucial life skills and developed me both personally, and professionally.

What did you enjoy the most about your course?

I have two main highlights: New York and my final major project. As I mentioned before, New York really shaped me as a person and aided me with life skills that I feel has helped me get to where I am today.

My final major project was a pivotal moment in my time at university where I chose to go against the grain and take a risk by going entirely out of my comfort zone! I still surprise myself with the quality of the output and how if you really push yourself, you can achieve amazing things!

The course ultimately helped me find my true passion in the business world.

About your final project: Which topic did you explore and why did you choose it? How did you find the research process? 

I went totally against the grain on my final major project. A majority of my peers chose to write about ecommerce or marketing…I chose Brexit. At the time it was incredibly fresh and I was intrigued at how this would impact the Beauty industry (at the time I was working within Beauty at M&S). In addition to choosing such a risky subject, I chose to use pure statistical analysis to back up my argument – this meant that I had to really up my game and knowledge on statistics and how this would complement and form the foundations of meaningful sales analysis and forecasting the impact of Brexit, at a time when no one was sure how this political situation could play out.

It was a huge task to say the least, but I was determined to make a statement, and to keep pushing myself to the absolute limits.

The research process consisted mainly of gathering historical sales data and then using SPSS to analyse regression, correlation coefficients and then layering historical theories on to such as ‘The Lipstick Effect’. The entire process was so rewarding and meant that I produced a one of a kind project that was ultimately used to inform in a real-world situation.

Best piece of advice you received from a lecturer or tutor during your time at LCF?

Liz Gee and Emmanuel Silva were both so so supportive and encouraging throughout the process. I wouldn’t be able to come up with a singular piece of advice as there are too many to choose from! I just have to make specific mentions to both of them though as they guided me through the process and ultimately made a lasting impact on my career.

What advice would you give to potential students who would like to enrol at this course?

Be clear on what you want to achieve and don't be afraid to do something different.

I think back to my final year, and I was constantly told that I was taking on such a huge project, that it would require a heck of a lot of work, and that it really good end up falling flat. Everyone was 100% right, but I knew that I wanted to achieve something unique, and I am hugely stubborn – the more that I am told I can’t do something or that it will be really hard to pull off, the more likely I am to go ahead and do it anyway.

Go out and do it, and make the most of every minute of this course – it was the most amazing time of my life!

What have you been working on since finishing your course? 

On my graduation day back in 2017, I found out on the same day that I had been a role at Pentland Brands as an assistant merchandiser on Footwear. This was in line with what I had trained for within my course, however I was always hungry for more analytics and numbers as these were my strengths. Only 8 months later, I was offered a role as a Category Analyst (Footwear) still within Pentland Brands. This was a pivotal moment in my career, building up key skills and making my name known (in a good way!). I am so grateful for my then manager who not only taught me crucial skills to apply to my work, but she also managed to get the funding approved for me to take my CIMA accounting exams which commenced in January of this year. I was very clear that I wanted to build my career within the finance function, utilising my strength with numbers, as well as analytics and statistics. In May 2019, I was offered a finance role as FP&A Reporting Analyst, which has widened my scope from footwear to Pentland Brands as a whole, and complements my CIMA studies.

Did you always know you wanted to pursue a career in fashion? 

Fashion was always something I inadvertently loved, however I never imagined that I would work or study in this sector. I never really knew what I could pursue as a career within fashion that wasn’t the usual designer, buyer, marketing roles.

I have never been one to follow the crowds, and it was through the statistics and accounting portion of the course that I found my true calling and how I could fit into the fashion universe.

For you, what's the best thing about your job/profession? 

I love that my work is seen by a wide range of people from Business Partners to the CFO of the company. This role exposes me to the bigger picture of the business, analysing the performance of each of the brands, as well as delving into the detail of marketing, royalty, brand controllable costs and margin.

What are your plans for the next few years? Where would you like to see yourself professionally?

In the next few years I would have completed my CIMA exams and be a qualified accountant. I want to continue to develop my career in FP&A, throwing myself into bespoke projects, analysing specific areas of the business, and aiding in strategic decisions.

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