Mixing shopping with leisure – a chat with Donna Howitt from Liverpool ONE

If you love shopping for clothes, dining out or watching the latest blockbuster films, there’re a good chance you’ve been to Liverpool ONE, the city’s landmark shopping destination. Having just celebrated it’s 10th birthday in 2018, the outdoor shopping centre is looking at what they can do next to engage with customers and residents in the city. We spoke to Donna Howitt, Director of Marketing and Communications at Liverpool ONE to find out her career journey and the women in her network that inspire her.

Tell us about your career journey.

Having originally studied Retail Marketing at University, I have worked in marketing for over 20 years, originally employed as Marketing Manager for Cheshire Oaks and UK Consumer Marketing Manager for McArthurGlen Designer Outlets.

I watched with interest the development of the then, Paradise Project back in the early 2000’s and got a call from a recruitment agency in 2007 as Grosvenor were looking to appoint a Director of Marketing. Fast forward the clock 11 years and I still head up Marketing & Communications, having established a strong team and the Liverpool ONE brand.

What is the best thing about your role?

The diversity. Each and every year has been different and there is huge scope to be creative. Marketing as an industry is fast changing as is the retail and leisure industry and we have consistently delivered award winning campaigns, always look to innovate and as a result delivered year on year growth for over a decade.

We’ve seen lots of excited members and friends talking about Dinosaurs Unleashed at Liverpool ONE – what inspired you to do this and can you tell us a bit more about it?

We understand the changing way that consumers shop and how they choose to spend their leisure time. We want to ensure Liverpool ONE is top of mind as THE destination that people choose to visit with friends and family. That means we have to provide new experiences alongside a fantastically strong retail offer.

Dinosaurs Unleashed gives families the chance to come together using some of the latest tech and the success of the campaign to date shows that dinosaurs have some incredible pulling power! We want visitors to enjoy our environment and by partnering with National Museums Liverpool we are able to connect with the wider city and really deliver something new for Liverpool.

What career advice would you give to the next generation of leaders?

Be willing to learn – I haven’t stopped learning in an ever-changing world! Understand you can have your cake and eat it but not all at the same time. If you have a good concept of the journey you are on and can be realistic as to what can be achieved, you’ll feel satisfied and feel motivated about the opportunities ahead.

Tell us about the women in your organisation and your direct network – are there any women that inspire you or have helped develop your personal or career journey?

I work with some incredible women at all levels. They fit the brand and have a sense of togetherness. It’s probably more unspoken than we realise but we show a respect for each other and our differing but complimentary skill sets. I think women are good at doing that. It isn’t just women who have inspired me along the way, I can think of a number of men who take on the same challenges as women in juggling work / life / family and the one thing that unites is the same “can do” attitude and good amount of optimism that the best leaders tend to have in abundance.

What’s next for Liverpool ONE?

We are excited to be sponsoring a Merseyside wide school’s netball tournament in May in celebration of the Vitality Netball World Cup and playing host to the official Fan Park at Liverpool ONE in July. The occasion has inspired our next big campaign this summer – ‘A Summer of Champions’ – watch this space for lots of sporting fun throughout July & August as well as announcing even more new brands for eager shoppers! We’re looking forward to inviting a number of sporting hero’s to Liverpool ONE and of course, they’ll be plenty of female role models ready to inspire the next generation of women and girls.