Nicholas Ball

Country: United Kingdom
Sector: Retail Stores
Job title: Senior Project Manager
Subject of study: Exercise & Sport Sciences / International Management
Year of graduation: 2009
Type/Level of study: Postgraduate Taught, Undergraduate

Current Employer/Organisation Name


What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?

Since leaving Exeter, I returned to live in Hong Kong where I started my career post-University. Initially, I worked in several different industries in an attempt to break into Sports Events and Sports Marketing roles. Unfortunately, I found opportunities in this space limited. However, I was offered a role in a company supplying Branded Retail Environments to Global Brands, specifically working on their Nike Account. This is how I started in Retail and on my current path within Project Management and Client Servicing. For the past 10 years, I have been involved in Retail as a Supplier, Consultant, and on the Brand Side. My ultimate goal has always been to work on the Brand side for a Global Sports/Athleisure Brand. Two years ago, I joined lululemon in their regional APAC HQ as the Senior Project Manager for New Market Entry. In this role, I have been focused on the delivery of Special Initiative Projects for New Markets, New Channels, and New Categories. Some highlights include opening Thailand as our 10th Market in Asia Pacific and launching Footwear as a new category in Australia earlier this year, our first FTW market in APAC. Throughout my career, I have always gravitated toward roles within Project Management and Client Servicing. Three years ago, I obtained my PMP qualification to demonstrate my commitment to Project Management and to upskill myself with a professional qualification. I have found this qualification to be highly beneficial in my career.

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?

n some ways I feel into a career within retail having started out looking to get into Sports Marketing / Sports Events. It wasn’t until I started working for the company supply Retail Environments that I realised how interested I was in the industry. Having seen how to bring new Retail Concepts to life, I wanted to develop a deeper understanding of Retail Strategy and Consumer behaviour – everyone continued to say Retail is dead everything is about Digital, but that’s not been the case. I am fascinated by the pace of change in retail and how Brands continue to develop and bring tangible experiences to their guests. It’s a fascinating and fast-moving industry when you get below the surface of it. In terms of my role and my work, I love being able to work with so many partners and teams across the regional and global business, as well as seeing my work come to life as part of Market Openings or GTM projects for new channels and categories. My roles have always allowed my to travel extensively as well which has been an awesome benefit.

Please tell us if you were a member of any societies, groups or sports clubs?

Member of EUAFC (2006 – 2010)

What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?

I thoroughly enjoyed both of the Degree courses I took as they provided me with a solid grounding and knowledge base to carry into my career. We had some expert lecturers who have gone on to be global leaders, Richard Winsley, Andy Jones. In my 3rd / final year on Exercise and Sports Science, participating in everyone’s dissertation projects was a lot of fun and very memorable. My biggest memory was probably finishing my dissertation early, then sitting on the quad at St. Lukes on deadline day watching people sprint across the grounds to try and submit theirs before the deadlines (in some cases a look of shear panic as the clock ticked down).

What did you enjoy most about studying here?

One of the highlights of studying at Exeter was the community and life on campus and in the city. The experience of studying Exercise & Sports Science at St Luke’s campus was truly unique. Most of us resided on campus in College House or Cloisters, creating a strong sense of community. It didn’t matter what year you were in, as most people knew each other, and the familiarity was comforting. St Lukes (and Stretham) were particularly enjoyable in the summer. I formed lasting friendships with many individuals I met at University, some of whom remain close friends. The bonds and strength of friendship established at Exeter are what I cherished the most, and are unique to the University itself.

Why did you choose to study at Exeter?

I chose to study at Exeter after visiting the University, I had a tour of St Lukes Campus (where Exercise & Sports Science was previously based/taught). The student ambassador who took us around on the tour spoke highly of Exeter, the Uni and life as a Sports Science student. The sun was also out and the Campus was in full glory compared to other universities I visited, especially those up North. It wasn’t a hard decision after seeing what Exeter had to offer and the city itself – it’s a decision I have no regrets about making!

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?

I think the skills and experiences that I have taken with me from my time at Exeter are: – Confidence – Ability to work within group environments, especially working with cross-cultural teams (International Management). – Leadership skills – EQ and People Skills (From courses and living in shared housing). – Foundational knowledge -> how to conduct research, build case studies etc.

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?

Based on my experience, if you are a current student who wishes to pursue a career in Project Management and Client Servicing within the retail industry, my advice would be to be open to opportunities that may not seem directly related to your desired field. Sometimes, unexpected roles can lead you to where you want to be. Networking and building relationships within the industry are also crucial in opening up new opportunities. If you can do so as part of your course or during summer/holiday periods, seek internships or work experience that can help you network within relevant industries and give you exposure within sectors or fields. As you develop into any career, gaining professional qualifications, such as the PMP qualification, can help demonstrate your commitment, enhance your skills, and take the next step. Look to seek new challenges and adventures, whether for travelling or growing and advancing in your career will always be worthwhile. Most importantly don’t let someone tell you, you can’t get there or won’t make it, the path isn’t always straightforward but you can be the one to make things happen.

What are your plans for the future?

My wife and I are expecting our first child in November, we are super excited, so learning to be a Dad and raise a little human will be a fun new chapter. I plan to remain in Hong Kong with lululemon for the immediate future, looking to develop with the business and see what internal opportunities open within the organisation as we plan into our 2030 growth strategies.


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