Mike Shearwood, chief executive of Karen Millen, speaks to Retail Week about his life working in retail.

What was your first job in retailing?

Selling shoes in TJ Hughes in Liverpool, an interesting job for a 16 year old.

Which retail company do you admire most and why?

I think it changes over time depending on who is doing what. I really like Ted Baker stores. The thing for me about Ted Baker is that everyone absolutely understands what its reason for being is and what the brand stands for. Everything it does is completely joined up, from the tone of voice, visual merchandising to the product. It’s a really great business.

What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?

I’m extremely competitive and if I’m not careful I will compete with the people in my team, which quite frankly is not good.

Who have you learnt most from in your retail career?

The customer.

What advice would you give someone starting out in retail?

Think very hard if you like people. If you don’t like people, don’t do retail. If you love people and you’re prepared to work hard, then it’s a very rewarding career.

What keeps you awake at night?

I sleep so little, so nothing.

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

Watching bright, keen individuals grow, develop and achieve things they thought they were not capable of.

What’s your proudest achievement?

Playing rugby with my five sons on the same pitch.

What job would you have done if you hadn’t become a retailer?

A racing driver. I would be very good at that.

What’s your favourite shop and why?

Dean & DeLuca. I love the food and presentation and the theatre, particularly the one on Broadway, New York.

What was your last purchase?

Something for my children. Even though they have grown up they still seem to cost me money.