Updated: Jul 22
Stephen Nicholson joined our Newcastle branch in 2016 and has been promoted four times to become Warehouse Manager – he says trusting in your team, giving credit where it’s due and remembering to say thank you are important qualities for any good manager.
What are your day-to-day duties?
I arrive at the Newcastle warehouse at 5am and set up the team for picking routes and online orders. I will check the delivery schedule then look at staff levels for the day and organise them accordingly. At about 9am I will liaise with management and other key departments and check if there are any issues that may affect us and take any action that is required.
No two days are the same after that! We take pride in our branch and do our best to take care of maintenance and repairs in-house, where possible.
The most important part of my job is helping to ensure our customers have an enjoyable visit and a seamless, and quick, shopping experience.
Tell us about your career journey
I started as an Operations Operative in 2016 then, within three years, was promoted to Picking Team Leader, Senior Picking Team Leader, Picking Supervisor and then Warehouse Manager by 2019. Today, I head up a team of 11 team members!
Wow, four promotions in two years. How did you do it?
I put my fast progression down to the fact that I had similar supervisory roles in past jobs and that experience helped me to fulfil the roles I was given at JJ.
But it is safe to say that any of the positions I applied for here in Newcastle I was already doing. My advice to anybody working in the company who wants to progress to the next level is to fulfil as much of the job description as is possible before you apply.
It’s hard for somebody to not give you the job if you are already doing it!
One of the most enjoyable parts of the job is watching some of our younger team members gaining new skills and experience.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
One of the most enjoyable parts of the job is watching some of our younger team members gaining new skills and experience. I get a real kick out of helping them grow and pushing them to progress themselves.
Even if they go onto new pastures, it’s still a good feeling knowing they are better prepared and equipped for the challenges ahead because of the support they had at JJ.
What has been the highlight of your career to date?
I believe I have helped to create a better internal culture of communication at Newcastle. My approach is to just pop your head round the corner and say hello, whether it be to the transport, admin, or reception teams. Quite often it will lead to work-related issues and then onto solutions for problems or ideas to help make the whole process smoother. It helps to create an atmosphere of ‘we are all in this together’ so let’s help each other!
I think showing you have trust in your team goes a long way. It is important to listen as it is to give direction and to be open to new ideas.
What do you think are the key ingredients of a good manager?
A manager can only be as good as the team around him. I think showing you have trust in your team goes a long way. It is important to listen as it is to give direction and to be open to new ideas. I also think it is imperative to thank them for any task and to give praise where it is due. Every cog in the wheel must feel they are as important as the next. NASA could not send people into space without the cleaners or canteen workers.
Is there anything new or exciting happening at the Newcastle warehouse?
We have Seagulls on the roof, and they have just had chicks! So, they are getting very protective. Our team know that it’s best to keep your eyes on the sky when you are by the back gate for dive bombing seagulls!
What do you do outside of work – any interesting hobbies you would like to share?
I have a degree in Contemporary Ceramic Design and one in Glass and Ceramics. I have a keen interest in the visual arts. I also think the Edinburgh Festival, which I visit most years, and luckily is not too far away is a must-see event for everyone.
What is your favourite meal?
I’m not sure I have a favourite meal, but I am delighted that I discovered JJ Crispy Southern Fried Chicken Strips – I could eat it for breakfast lunch and dinner.
Anything else you would like to add?
When the Newcastle branch opened, JJ put in place very skilled and experienced team members from Enfield. Andrzej Zdyb was Warehouse Manager back then, and Deputy Branch Manager now. Most of what I know comes from him.
Our Branch Manager, Onur Aslan, has been fantastically supportive during my time here and I wanted to take this opportunity to thank him.