Anne Marie McAuley
Business of Fashion
‘I absolutely love what I do and genuinely embrace supporting a person to develop and grow. I encourage and promote people at all levels to maximise their potential and hopefully instil a sense of purpose.
The are many careers one can pursue when completing a Portobello Institute fashion course. Part of my role is to help and support you to find the best path.’
ABOUT ANNE MARIE MCAULEY
After graduating from college in the USA with degrees in Business and Psychology, I initially worked as a milieu counsellor with young adults presenting with social and developmental difficulties – I was all about saving the world and think I still can – which was fantastic and the insights I gained in that role have helped me through my own journey to this day.
I always loved fashion, when I was small and then through my teenage years. I always wanted the latest trendy gear, constantly adapting my clothes myself to be a bit different. I was the first of my friends to have a pair of drainpipe jeans (known as skinnies these days!). I always had a part-time job in retail through school and in college at stores like Macy’s and Lord and Taylor.
My first job in a department store was at Christmas time and I was tasked with selling cashmere sweaters, the only section that the full-time and staff with tenure would allow me to work in as I was the ‘blown in college student’. I soon figured out that my best customer demographic was the panicked husband looking to purchase a gift for his wife and willing to spend ‘whatever to make her happy’ and of course who does not love cashmere – Cha-Ching! I did more in sales than anyone in the department and as we were commission-based, I was a very happy student. I was destined for a career in retail and fashion and I never forgot the importance of knowing your customer.
I then secured a job in Saks Fifth Ave as an assistant – really just running around New York picking up samples for photos, answering telephones, dressing mannequins, and doing whatever I was told to do, all the time absorbing and learning as much as I could. Back then being around designers like Michael Kors, Diane Von Furstenberg, and Ralph Lauren was an everyday occurrence.
I worked hard and soon became a junior buyer and then a senior buyer, I loved my job. I moved into the retail operations at Saks as I wanted to develop my skills and I found that leading, coaching, and developing people to also do well was one of my favourite parts of the job. I soon was heading up new store opening teams and one of my greatest achievements was the opening of the San Fran Store. It takes a huge team effort to train several hundred new staff and merchandise the store for opening. I travelled all over the country and enjoyed every day at Saks.
I moved back to Ireland where I secured the role of Retail Operations Manager of The Body Shop Ireland. I had always loved the product and admired their business ethos and not testing on animals. It soon became clear that there were huge challenges within the group around staff training and development which I embraced and was thrilled to be able to use my American experience to influence major decisions in changing the direction of The Body Shop. I also attended any training sessions that the company had for senior management to consistently develop my own skills in leadership and management. While at The Body Shop, I looked at how we could develop the business and came up with a body shop concession concept for pharmacies. We started with one and now there are 150 and the concept has been copied across Europe.
I decided to step away from the role when we were adopting my beautiful girl from Vietnam. For the next few years, I worked as a consultant in retail, so my schedule was flexible and partnered with companies like Claire’s Accessories, New Look, The Health Store Group, I also became a qualified trainer because helping, teaching, and supporting people were always top of my list.
I applied for the role of a tutor at Portobello Institute and started with delivering QQI level 6 business planning and then an opening came up in the fashion department to teach the buying and merchandising module. Wow, to be able to combine my qualifications, my fashion and business experience with my love of helping people to become successful while still being there for my daughter – fantastic. Of course, because it is in my nature to be a leader, yet still embrace inclusivity, I became the programme manager and have developed the fashion programme to be the number one course in the country. I am also on the panel of mentors of Enterprise Ireland, and on the panel of trainers with the Education Training Board.
Why did you choose to work in education?
I understand that to be a teacher is truly a calling of not just the mind, but the heart as well. I believe that great teachers are good at explaining content, are patient, yet firm with students, are always fair, set high expectations, know how to motivate, and use humour appropriately. Being an excellent communicator who has a command of the subject matter is really important. I have forged my own style of teaching that draws on my strengths, knowledge, skills, values, and experiences yet fully realise I still have much to learn and develop and I am always learning from my peers and my students.
I have chosen education as a career because I believe that education is perhaps the most important function performed in our culture, or for that matter, any culture. I believe that teachers individually and collectively can not only change the world, but improve it, and in the process find personal and professional renewal. I love being to be part of this noble profession and hope to continue to inspire all the students I meet.
Empathy is of huge importance to me and understanding that no matter how someone presents themselves to you there are always things going on behind the scenes. I know this from experience and have learned the importance of understanding that everyone learns differently while at the same time, a tutor must balance that with the demands of the professional industry that the students want a career in.
The fashion industry is demanding and challenging. It is my role to fully prepare students for the reality of those challenges.
Your experience as a Programme Manager
As a Programme Manager, I can develop the course content, so that it remains up-to-date and relevant. I can utilise my connections in the industry to connect our students with the best companies to fulfil their dreams of a career in fashion. I can ensure we have the best team of tutors who are all on board with our philosophies, and I can share my experience and learn from everyone on the team. I get to inspire and I enjoy every day that I am part of Portobello.
I have chosen to work at Portobello because I am afforded the opportunity to bring my unique style to the classroom. I get to work with a super team of individuals. I am respected and valued for my input. Yes, we have policies and procedures like any strong organisation has but I get to have fun at work.
We have smaller classes in Portobello which allow us to connect with each student as an individual. We have a holistic approach to education and can balance the academic content required while putting our students’ emotional and psychological needs to the fore.
We have a team of people here at Portobello who all want our student base to succeed, from the academic team to the support team in the office. We are always thrilled to share great news stories about our students, especially those who have overcome many obstacles before they arrived at Portobello and during their time with us.
A student should choose to study with us because they will have the journey of their lives while being supported the whole way through and beyond.
Anne Marie is the Programme Manager for Portobello Institute’s BA (Hons) Fashion Buying & Merchandising, BA (Hons) Fashion Management, Postgraduate Cert Fashion Buying & Merchandising and Postgraduate Cert in Fashion Management.
What Students Say
Stephanie Burns – Fashion Buying & Merchandising
“Anne Marie has the rare ability to make learning both interesting and enjoyable. Through the amazing stories of her first-hand experience in international business and her unique and fun teaching methods, she was able to inspire me in a way of wanting to be the best student that I could be. I was scared of going back to education after a long absence, but Anne Marie made the transition so easy. She encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone, helped me recognise my strengths, and gave me the confidence that I needed to go forward and pursue my dream career in the fashion industry. She is both encouraging and inspiring, and I feel so lucky to have been one of her students. She truly changed my life.”
Mpho Morwaeng – Business Planning
“Being a student of Anne Marie’s has been the best experience in my tertiary education. I enjoyed each and every single class with her. Being an international student, coming all the way from Botswana to be in her class was worth it and it’s an experience I will cherish forever. She was always supportive, positive, and patient with me, in and out of class she was available to assist me with my studies. She did not criticise, she encouraged. She motivated and inspired me to do my best. She treated us equally in class and it made me feel free to ask questions and participate in class. Not only did she teach theory, but she was also very practical and demonstrated how everything applies in the real world. I will carry with me the knowledge and skills I gained from her forever.”
- Bachelor’s Degree Psychology
- Bachelors Degree Business
- QQI Level 6 Train the Trainer
- QQI level 6 Supervisor
- Currently completing MA in Counselling
Research / Industry Participation
- Developed the Student Internship Programme partnered with Industry leaders Primark, Brown Thomas, Arnotts, Pamela Scott, Lifestyle Sports, Diesel etc.
- Mentor for Enterprise Ireland
- Mentor for Meath Partnership
- Panelist of Trainers for ETB