Alice Boaten originally joined Argos has a seasonal temp, with no idea of what retail had in store for her.
She has worked her way up to a few senior roles, including a stint as digital store manager and currently regional manager. More than anything though, has been making waves in the retail industry with her passion, innovation and drive.
These skills resulted in Boaten winning the 2019 Everywoman in Retail Award’s top accolade: Woman of the Year.
She felt that being a finalist was a victory already and never imagined she would win the award. But when she did, she felt “simply overjoyed and humbled”.
“I still have to remind myself every time I look at my award ‘you did that Alice’,” she recalled.
Boaten spoke about the importance of her daughter Kasai, who motivates her to do what she does.
“I want to be her role model like my mum was for me,” she said.
She went on the discuss the pivotal role of the community she serves.
As a community governor at a local school, Boaten wants to show children “you can achieve anything if you work at it”.
At Argos, Boaten has helped transform the digital platform. She played a pivotal role behind the scenes with the retailer’s pilot digital stores, where she led and opened the newly-transformed store in Old Street.
She can still remember the key elements involved in the process, such as how she had to “develop the ability to deal with ambiguity and still stay convicted to principles” she knew.
Boaten said she and her team didn’t know how customers and colleagues would respond to the digital stores, as there there was no blueprint at the time as to what a great digital store looked and felt like.
She also recalled coaching her team and reminding them “that we had the opportunity to change retail and that if we pulled together as a team we would triumph.”
Throughout her time in retail, Boaten has developed a broad skill set from varied work.
“Change is always inevitable and to stay ahead you must be agile and change ready,” she told Retail Gazette.
“For me [good customer service] is how a service or experience leaves you feeling, I believe the human interaction is still the deal clincher.
“I choose to spend my money based on how valued I am made to feel, from a coffee shop to your big brand retailers, you build loyalty on memories.”
“I never compromise my authenticity”
Boaten attributes her career success to standing her ground and not giving in to others by being true to herself and her values.
While there have undoubtedly been challenges along the way, for Boaten, the highlights clearly outweigh all.
These include being appointed as the first BAME female regional manager for Argos, leading a team while serving and creating experiences for the community.
“The most rewarding however is to see the continued growth and development of my teams over the years,” she reflected.
Boaten also touched on diversity in the retail workforce and its importance.
“The landscape has changed so much in retail and the one dimension approach is simply out dated and proven it’s no longer sustainable,” she said.
“In order to get balance and appeal to the wider audience you have to have true representation based on the current world we live in.”
Women make up more than half of the retail workforce, yet the boardrooms are still dominated by men. In response to this, Boaten believes retailers need to address the imbalances by looking for potential and talent and create an environment where women feel confident and appreciate what they can bring to a successful business.
Boaten also said that if more “phenomenal women” were given the opportunity to join boardrooms, they’d further enhance the retail sector as a whole.
“There is still a great degree of unconscious bias out there.” she said.