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Person Behind the Business: It's key to let your personality shine through

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Jackie Cuddy, Eastgate Centre Manager. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Jackie Cuddy, Eastgate Centre Manager. Picture: James Mackenzie.

You should not be judged by how you look, but by how you perform says Jackie Cuddy, manager of Eastgate Shopping Centre in Inverness.

Q How would you describe your business?

A The Eastgate Centre, which celebrates its 40th anniversary in January, is the premiere shopping mall for the Highlands and Islands with 60 shop units serving eight million customers a year. The retail market is tough but we are looking forward to Loch and Larder – an exciting £2 million destination eating spot for locals and tourists opening later this year involving MasterChef winner Gary McLean and five other eateries.

A shopping centre is an asset and the manager is the person on the ground who must ensure it is performing to the best of its ability, financially and operationally.

People are always amazed at what goes on in the background to ensure that customers have a good experience, retailers have a profitable one, and the landlords get a good return on investment.

It is akin to running your own business. There are only four in the centre management team supported by a facilities management team. Eastgate is important to the economy of the city centre so a key role is networking with stakeholders and an awareness of all the major projects in the city centre. CSR also features high in the role.

Q What led you into the business?

A Pure chance. I left school with no O-Levels, didn’t know what I wanted to do. I went to university later and did a master’s degree in business administration specialising in marketing.

I worked as head of marketing for Birmingham City Council leisure services. I moved into shopping centre management in 1992. When the owners were selling Pavilions in Birmingham City Centre in 2004 but also owned Eastgate I was asked if I would consider the move. I didn’t know where Inverness was at the time – I only knew it was past the Lake District!

Q What is your greatest achievement?

A Getting my MBA was one of my greatest achievements – a game-changer which let me move onwards and upwards. Recently I was asked to sit on the Retail Industry Leadership Group set up by the Scottish Government looking to create conditions for a vibrant and enticing retail proposition in a fair work environment.

On National Women’s Day in 2019, I was one of 20 women presented with the Association of Scottish Businesswomen’s Woman of Inspiration Award, in recognition and appreciation of achievement and contribution to business and the wider community.

Q Who do you admire in business?

A People who go the extra mile and have over-achieved through tenacity. I related to Sharon White, chairwoman of John Lewis, in a recent interview when she talked about not conforming to business dress and being yourself. You should not be judged by how you look, but by how you perform. I was amazed to hear her talk about suffering from imposter syndrome – a very clever and honest lady.

Q What’s your advice to budding entrepreneurs?

A The key thing is to always treat the business as your own – and enjoy what you are doing, let your personality shine through because you perform so much better. Partnership working is also vital to success.

Q Can you tell us more about yourself?

A I organised the first fundraising dinner in Inverness that brought together three cancer charities – Marie Curie, Maggie’s and Highland Breastcare – and it raised £45,000.

Having had breast cancer, it led me to Maggie’s where I joined the board and organised fundraising lunches. I was also on the board of the Archie Foundation.

I love going wild swimming, yoga and have a passion for the arts – we would never have moved here if there hadn’t been Eden Court.

After 18 years I am really settled here, so when I retire at the end of January next year we will continue to live here and hopefully there are some organisations or charities that can make use of my skills. I need to keep my brain active! Maybe I will do another degree!

Eastgate Shopping Centre, Eastgate, Inverness IV2 3PP

T: 01463 226475

For more information about Inverness BID:

T: 01463 714550 E: info@inverness.uk.com

Person Behind the Business is presented by Inverness BID.

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