Lucy Ireland

Development Manager


Aged 23, one of our Buddies on the Graduate Scheme, Lucy shares her story of working at Belfield Group

My first graduate job

I love manufacturing! I didn’t think I would be saying that a few years ago as I started my textiles design for interiors degree at Bath Spa University.
It was on the course though that I realised that I was more interested in the business element of design, rather than the creating itself. I have a maths brain (I did A level maths and business as well as art) and I wanted to apply my knowledge as well as design skills. I was in my final year, and I was determined to be the first on the course to get a job. I wanted to prove all the people wrong who thought that my arts degree wouldn’t lead to a good career! This was in the January of my final year, so I gave myself a good lead time.

I chanced my luck and applied. I didn’t apply for the graduate scheme and how I ended up in Belfield is a lesson in just having a go. I came back home for an interview in March 2018 that didn’t happen and mentioned this disappointment to a friend. They’d heard about a new company close by, that had taken over a furniture factory, who were potentially looking for graduates. I heard they worked with Ikea and Argos, making mattresses, but this was the extent of my knowledge. My Google search took me to Duflex and I was impressed. I sent them my CV and a letter explaining my skills and qualifications and requested an interview. I met one of the directors and found out about Usleep, the factory in Ashton Under Lyne. It was a perfect distance from where I had grown up and I was over the moon to get the job.

Starting real work!!

What I didn’t realise (in all my enthusiasm) that when someone asks you the question “when can you start?”, you don’t give them the first Monday after your final year degree show. Yes, I started on Monday 11 June after completing my degree two days prior. With support from my ever-helpful parents, I loaded a car up that Sunday and moved my life back home, bought a car on the internet and learnt to drive again.

USleep is my dream job

I am the Development Manager for Usleep mattresses. I am one of the main links between our key customer, Simba, and our manufacturing team. I love the interaction with the customer and working with them to develop new ranges. This means that I prototype new materials and processes. I couldn’t do this without the support of the team on the shop floor. They are brilliant in helping me to get samples made at short notice, even when they are extremely busy. Working with suppliers to develop samples is very interesting too. My first trip as a graduate was to Hangzhou, China, to audit a new supplier factory!

I never want to stop learning

I would say that the biggest attribute that I bring to the role is that I never want to stop learning and I am always asking questions. As part of my induction, I worked on the shop floor to learn all the different manufacturing processes. Again, the teams were so friendly and showed me the ropes. It gave me such an insight into every process that I could see what needed to change across different areas. I wouldn’t have got that sitting in an office.

Last year, the MD asked if I wanted to study for an MSc in management and leadership. I jumped at the chance and I am now immersed in a fantastic course at Cranfield, learning about all areas of management and meeting people from different businesses. It’s not easy as the learning weeks are intense and I have assignments, but the learning opportunity is fantastic, and I can bring all this back to the business.

Why would I recommend working here?

The people are the main reason. Everyone throughout the company is encouraged to be involved in the development of the business and ideas are free flowing. We all take responsibility for Health and Safety and look out for each other. We all care about the work and operate as a team. There is room to grow through the business and good career progression, if you are enthusiastic, hard-working and hungry for success. Where will I be in five years? In charge!

Lucy Ireland BW

“Everyone throughout the company is encouraged to be involved in the development of the business.”

Lucy Ireland

Development Manager


lucy at work