Primark International HQ is located in Arthur Ryan House, Dublin, where all centralised functions, including the 200-strong finance team, are based. Diversity and inclusion is part of how we work in Primark every day. We are naturally a very diverse business, from our colleagues to our customers, and aim to ensure this diversity is recognised, celebrated and reflective of the communities we serve.

My team is responsible for developing and driving the centralised tax function for the entire business operations. As our retail business continues to expand, so too does tax legislation in each country. At HQ, we have specialists across all tax heads – corporate, VAT and employment, covering the 13 jurisdictions where Primark is based. Tax has a key role in ensuring Primark is a leader in tax compliance and governance while supporting the business, and this is especially the case in navigating the challenges the Covid-19 pandemic has brought.

In terms of how we work, the biggest change brought by the pandemic was the immediate shift to working from home full time and only interacting with my team via Microsoft Teams. This creates its own challenges of being disconnected from the buzz of the team and being able to have office-based learning opportunities.

Retail businesses need to adapt and evolve, as the retail landscape is very different now compared to pre-pandemic times

I have responded to this by creating a routine at home where I make it a priority to connect with my team but also look after my physical and mental health and wellbeing. I do this through a combination of exercise, having a structured working day and making some time to have fun with my work colleagues and friends and family (virtually, of course). In the evening, I ensure I fit in a walk or run to clear my mind at the end of the day.

This past year has certainly been uncharted waters, but we remained focused on getting our stores back trading again, and the health and wellbeing of our colleagues and customers are at forefront of everything we do. It is important that we do not lose sight of the future. Retail businesses need to adapt and evolve, as the retail landscape is very different now compared to pre-pandemic times.

Back in March 2020, when we first felt the severe impact of Covid 19 in Ireland and our stores were closed, we donated care packages to most hospitals throughout Ireland. This was part of a global effort to help frontline workers and patients impacted by Covid-19. We donated more than 450,000 everyday items such as clothing, underwear, towels and bed linen. Also, we’re proud to have been a charity partner with Unicef for the past three years. Our initial $6m partnership sees Primark working alongside Unicef to provide safe, clean and inclusive school environments for more than 80,000 children in Cambodia.

The most important business lesson I have learned in my career is having a product or service that your own people believe in. Primark employees are the business’s biggest fans and the best brand ambassadors out there. Realising where your strengths and passions lie also enables you to set concrete goals in your professional life and gives you an actionable plan to achieve them.