Emma Matthew, Portfolio Career

In our regular #MyFirstMcJob series, big fish remember when they were still small fry


Hi, Emma! Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Emma Matthew, and I have a portfolio career running our family office, which means we're invested in a number of businesses, a handful of which I have board position on. So I’m loving the diversity and flexibility in my day.

What was your #MyFirstMcJob?

Working at the covered market in Oxford in a shop that sold beautiful clothes, for one term at university. The main highlight was it was besides Ben's Cookies so I used to stuff my face with cookies most days.

How did you get the job? 

I approached them and told them why I thought they should hire me. They must have been looking for someone, I guess. So – having the gift of the gab right time, right place. I’d work during the week when I didn’t have lectures for two four or five-hour shifts a week.

What did you have to do?

Restock the shelves. Make sure the clothes were neatly placed on the racks. I was allowed to work the till as I got more confident. Then I was approaching customers to see if they wanted any help with their choices. You're bringing back a flash of memories here!

Did anything funny happen or go wrong? 

I'm sure there were definite times when I punched the wrong numbers into the till. My lasting memory is the fact that I used to smell Ben's Cookies next door.

What skills did you learn that you still use today?

For sale, being proactive. For customer service, being able to roll up my sleeves and get on with the job. No task was too small. I was willing to give everything a go.

Are you still in contact with anyone you used to work with? 

That's a negative. After one term being on my feet for hours a day, I figured there had to be another way. 

Why is alumni important to you?

If I look at all the different roles I've been involved with over the years, the alumni are the first and foremost ambassadors of any company. They are mouthpieces to talk about the company in a positive way. I love seeing the career trajectory of people who've worked for me over the years, so I make a concerted effort to learn what those guys are up to on their journey. Alumni gives me an outreach of people who know me and with whom I've experienced the same culture and organisation. 

What would happen if you went back and did a shift working at the clothes shop in Oxford today? 

I'd like to think I'd be running the shop rather than stacking the shelves! I think I would ask for more money because I knew that I was good at the sales and able to upsell. I would wow with my charisma and entrepreneurial drive and ask for more money or a percentage of sales. 

What was the favourite item you sold?

All I can really remember is floaty dresses and flowery coats!

If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice, what would you say? 

I would say: “Emma, maybe you should have taken some better fashion advice from what was being sold!” Maybe I should have negotiated a better discount so I could have got better clothes to wear.  




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