Career Profile: Lindsay Watson-Jones, 3D Ply/Global Upholstery Solutions

As part of our Career Profile series, we had the privilege of speaking with Lindsay Watson-Jones, Chief of Staff at 3D Ply/Global Upholstery Solutions. We’re pleased to share Lindsay’s career so far and hope you can find inspiration in her journey to drive forward your own creative career.

Lindsay Watson-Jones, Chief of Staff at 3D Ply/Global Upholstery Solutions

Please could you introduce yourself and Global Upholstery?

Hello, my name is Lindsay, and my role is Chief of Staff for 3D Ply/Global Upholstery Solutions, both who are part of the Stannah Group of Companies. Global is an upholstery company set up for business-to-business customers, manufacturing and upholstering high volume, repeatable products. 3D Ply is unique in the fact that it is now the only UK manufacturer of formed ply, also geared towards high volume and repeatable items. The Chief of Staff role isn’t easy to define, but I work closely with the General Manager to deliver projects, tasks and activities across the business, including strategic personnel development and sustainability.

What is your educational background?

I studied hard and left school with nine GCSEs and through the years I have completed NVQs in Travel & Tourism, Customer Service, Business Administration and more recently, I achieved CIPS level 4 during my time as Supplier Account Manager for Global Upholstery.

What was your first step onto the career ladder? 

From school I went straight to work, I’d had enough of studying and I’m going to show my age now when I tell you I joined a YTS scheme! Whilst at school, I had a two-week work experience in a local independent travel agency. It wasn’t my first choice, I wanted to work in the Body Shop! However, without knowing it at the time, it set me on my career path. At the end of the two weeks, the manager asked what I had planned to do after leaving school, to which I had no idea and she said there was a job available if I wanted it. I didn’t get to enjoy the summer holidays; I went straight to work earning just £35.00 per week! I loved it though; I had always been curious about travelling and seeing the world and in this role I helped others achieve that. I was lucky enough to take a few education trips too to Grenada, Tunisia and Florida. Looking back, what I learned from this role was that I liked to help people, to help them find the holiday of their dreams, to suggest places to go, it was satisfying to see them excited about their expectant vacation.

How did your career progress?

I was at the travel agency for 5 years and whilst I still enjoyed it, I felt the urge to start looking elsewhere. A dear friend of mine who also still works for Stannah told me of a vacancy and with nothing to lose, I applied. This was the first formal interview I had experienced, and I was nervous to say the least. To my surprise, I was offered the role in the order administration team at Stannah Stairlifts. There were many tears when I left the travel agency, I loved the people I worked with and had a few favourite customers, but I had to do this for me. In the 5 years in the order administration, I gained great working relationships with colleagues across the business, helping one another to get the orders out on time and in full. Following this, I took a role in the Worldwide Technical Support team where my knowledge and experience in booking travel arrangements came back into use. I loved this role; I had an excellent manager and team who I sent all over the world to provide technical diagnostics and carry out audits with our distributors and Stannah subsidiaries. We also had them visit us at Stannah HQ for technical training where I would organise amongst other things, their accommodation, transport to and from the airport and sometimes there was a need for an interpreter. We looked after our visitors, taking them for evening meals, and showing them the sights; some had never been to the UK before, I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve been to Stonehenge!

What were your highlights during this period?

These 15 years in Stannah established firm relationships with colleagues across the business and friendships across the world. It all goes back to helping people. I even met now husband through Stannah!

Name any key projects you’ve worked on and why were they so important to you and your career path?

It was during my role as Supplier Account Manager at Global that I established a great working relationship with the then owners of 3D Ply. They were a key supplier, an integral part of the supply chain to create the finished upholstery products for Stannah Stairlifts. I had visited them a handful of times which I later found invaluable when Stannah purchased them and by this time I was in my Chief of Staff role. From the beginning, I was involved in the transition which I can only imagine to be quite daunting for the staff and it was important to me to support them through it. 20 months later, we continue to integrate the small team in Blandford and building relationships with their colleagues at Global and to the cultural values of Global and the wider Stannah Group. To help them understand and enhance their capabilities, we continue to work with individuals and groups on improving their processes, upgrading visual standard operating procedures, and safe working practices for their growth and success. I continue to work closely with the leaders and managers from a personnel aspect helping them identify proactive and positive solutions. As I previously mentioned, 3D is unique being the only UK manufacturer of formed ply products for commercial furniture. Their talent, attention to detail and can-do attitudes make me burst with pride and it makes my job worthwhile. They go hand in hand with Global and the core values and high standards we hold ourselves to.

What core skills have you developed?

Listening. I have learned to actively listen and not always advise, unless someone asks. Its such a valuable resource no matter what job you do and equally outside of the workplace too. I have always been kind, calm, patient and positive and I think these attributes have taken me to where I am now. It means I can keep abreast of everything going on in both companies due to my wide remit and engage with people to avoid problems. I provide the link between our General Manager and the company at large and being close enough to the sharp end allows me to use my listening skills to full effect.

Why did you decide to join Global Upholstery?

My aforementioned excellent manager left his position, and the job was never quite the same without him. I heard of an opening at Global and decided to take the plunge and apply. To my delight, I was offered the administration role. Global Upholstery was only 10 months old and like 3D Ply were previously a key supplier for Stannah. Stannah purchased the assets and contracts and Global was born. A small company of less than 30 people, it was new and exciting. I soon went on to manage the customer base and the suppliers until I moved into the Chief of Staff position. Growing with Global has given me the confidence to support 3D Ply in their infancy as a Stannah company.

How has Global Upholstery supported your career journey?

As I’ve explained about where I started, Global Upholstery Solutions believes in giving people opportunities and in return we have a very committed team, myself included. Global have invested time and money in allowing me to learn and grow as they have for many others. People buy from people. I want to help our people be the best they can be. It is really all the people I work with who have supported my career journey, they’ve brought the best out in me and with all of my experience and learning I want to give it back.

What advice would you give to younger people beginning their profession?

This is just the beginning of your journey, embrace it, be curious, and enjoy it because there is more to come. Listen and learn from the people around you because in years to come, this learning will help you get to where you want to be, even where you’re meant to be.

What are your plans for the future?

I don’t plan too far ahead, I prefer to live for now, I just know I want to continue doing what I do and being me.  

Find Global Upholstery Solutions on Supplier Finder

Supplier Finder is the UK’s only search platform for accredited suppliers of commercial interior furnishings.

At Supplier Finder, our mission is simple: to help you find the perfect commercial furnishing suppliers for your interior schemes and projects. We understand the importance of having confidence in the suppliers you specify and the products that bring your designs to life. That’s why each supplier featured on our platform is accredited through Commercial Interiors UK’s rigorous membership application process. This ensures that you engage with only the best in the industry!


About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
View all posts by Alys Bryan →