Day in the Life of a Shopping Centre Manager – Aisha Small

Aisha Small is currently the Centre Manager at the Market Place, a retail arcade in East Ham.


Morning Routine:

I am up at 6:45am daily.  As a working mother of a wonderful teenager my first duty starts here.

Being organised, showing lots of support and encouragement and keeping my head when everyone in the household is losing theirs.  It certainly sets the tone for the day ahead.  Its amazing what happens when a pair of glasses is missing, a set of keys or a white t-shirt isn’t where it was last left.

The centre opens at 7am so usually I would have a quick check in with my centre assistant on what is happening onsite.  This is often through the WhatsApp team app fondly named ‘The Dream Team’.  This consists of centre opening protocol (security checks) so any issues are listed quickly with images which keep me informed so I can pick up and start to resolve quickly and efficiently when the world begins their day at 9am.

I have a nice hot bath, play some upbeat music, and get ready to face to world.  I love music.

I work a 15-minute walk away from home so tend to stroll in, take in the environment and then walk the perimeter of the centre before heading into the management suite.

The walk around gives me that extra opportunity to appreciate the centre but also apply fresh morning eyes to any quick improvements, like weeds to be removed, any rubbish that is visible or other not so welcoming packages left behind by people and animals alike.


Workday Highlights:

Our centre is very new and so currently much of my attention has been directed into marketing, advertising, and viewings with potential tenants.  Our units are core and shell, a lot of support is given to tenants from the moment of viewing a unit, submitting a proposal and then fit-out stages. It requires cross-functional collaboration and consistent support and liaison between the tenant and landlord through to lease completion and beyond.  The fun part about this is sharing in the joy of a proposal acceptance and the excitement all parties feel within this new venture, including the local community and site staff.

Networking with stakeholders of the centre such as the local community/community groups, local retailers, police, MP’s and councillors, even residential tenants of the scheme have been and are extremely important. It is so beneficial as it creates an environment that people want to come and visit but also feel apart of.   Relationship building forms most of my day to ensure the smooth running of the centre.

The general operational day to day running of the centre includes managing a team of assistance, contractor and subcontractors’ compliance, health and safety, cleaning, maintenance, and security of the site.

The centre also provides pop-up spaces for smaller traders, so coordinating timings, advertising and promotion as well as assisting them with confidence building within trading is exciting. The pleasure of watching a small business increase their exposure and sales but also providing spaces for community campaigns and events across varied projects make my role very worthwhile. Although my title is centre manager promoting and providing opportunity to others adds to my intrinsic motivations.


Lunchtime Escape:

I tend to stay within close proximity of the centre at lunchtimes, I speak with the locals, listen to music or create TikTok and Instagram adverts for the centre.   I have checked out the local gyms but am yet to make the commitment of signing up, for now my lunchtimes feed me mentally rather than physically.


Post-Work Delights:

As previously mentioned, I am a mother of a teenager.  My daughter is currently studying for exams and so often when I get in from work (usually as soon as I enter the through the door) she would be bursting with information to offload, asking questions such as ‘Mum do you know how to calculate relative atomic mass’? or ‘what is the balanced equation for respiration?  Then proceeds to quote letters and numbers…C6H12O6 + 6O2 =……all whilst I am trying to take my coat off, kick off my shoes and exhale.  Any working parent would know that feeling but I would not change it for the world and consider parenthood a massive blessing, it is the highlight of my life.  I spend my time building her up in terms of positive role models, new experiences, and encouraging her hobbies.

After dinner, I like to watch some TV usually Netflix or YouTube, sometimes we pull out the microphone and sing whilst my partner works his magic using some app to make me sound like a super star (musical therapy) is great.  Rhianna watch this space 🙂


Closing Thoughts:

Being a centre manager requires you to be a great leader.  To be a great leader you must lead by example, make decisions under pressure sometimes difficult or unpopular ones, have trustworthiness and a level of communication style that can be relatable and transcends to all from cleaning staff, directors, MPs and even the most vulnerable.

It is important to exercise accountability, have passion, give empathy, bring positivity, apply vision, serve with integrity, and show resilience.  The thing to remember is that essentially the role is about customer services amongst all stakeholders.   It takes a team of internal and external individuals across many departments working in collaboration together to provide a safe space and nice ambiance to drive foot-fall.  Customer services serves the people, but great customer services create experiences that people will remember, after all, the aim is to create an environment where people want to eat, shop and visit but stay for longer.


If you’re looking for new opportunities with Placemaking, or if you’re looking to boost your network within the sector, please reach out and I’d be happy to have a discussion!

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