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Pamela Jabbour: “People are not your most important asset, the right people are”

Nothing Good Comes Easy. Every role model I have ever looked up to from a business sense has such an incredible story of passion, patience and persistence. This saying and those four words have really held me through some of the toughest parts of my career. Probably a little too literally and as a result […]


Nothing Good Comes Easy. Every role model I have ever looked up to from a business sense has such an incredible story of passion, patience and persistence. This saying and those four words have really held me through some of the toughest parts of my career. Probably a little too literally and as a result I also love the saying work smarter not harder. Life is a balance and you aren’t at your best if you are burnt out. So, I reflect on this saying often to give my self-space or be kinder to myself with my workload to make sure I am the best I can be for the business, my clients and my team.


I had the pleasure to interview Pamela Jabbour. Pamela is the founder and CEO of Total Image Group — Uniform designer and manufacturer to some of Australia’s leading brands such as Dan Murphy’s and Fantastic Furniture. With offices in Sydney, Melbourne and China, Total Image dresses over 300,000 Australians per day in their work wardrobe.


Thank you so much for doing this with us Pamela! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was fascinated by business from a young age. My dad had a fashion manufacturing company, and I spent my school holidays in the warehouse learning about fabric, at the office doing reception or out with the sales reps.

I knew that I wanted to work in fashion and manufacturing, but I also wanted to be creative and design. When I completed my university degree, I came up with the idea of making uniforms. I saw a really strong connection between clothing, uniform and fashion.

The uniform space at the time was more traditional and focused on embroidered blue or white shirts. My idea was to enter the market and sell the importance of bringing fashion to the workplace in a practical and fit-for-purpose way.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

I like to consider us the cool kids on the block when it comes to uniforms- we are a team driven by innovation and doing things differently so we take any opportunity we can to add a bit of creativity and fun into uniforms. Getting clients involved in short teaser videos to unveil their uniform via YouTube, co-coordinating fashion shows, pushing boundaries on design and stepping outside the corporate box with the uniform ideas we put forward are some of the ways we are disrupting a very traditional space.

We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

I’ve been lucky enough to have many mentors in my life both through family, friendships and business connections.

I would say my dad has been a sounding board, rock and one of my biggest cheerleaders through my career. We have a daily phone ritual while I am driving where I often soundboard any stresses or concerns and even if he just simply listens, I already feel much better. My grandmother would have to be another mentor/role model who showed me what resilience, persistence and perseverance looked like. I never tire of hearing my grandmothers’ stories what she endured and how she got through it.

My grandfather had a serious car accident when he was young and couldn’t work as a result. My grandmother had 3 young children at the time and worked 2 jobs, maintained a house, cooking, caring for my grandfather and her children all with a smile on her face. Even when talking about those times she reflects so positively. She taught me that you just do what you got to do and live a full, happy life regardless of your circumstances.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Leadership can be lonely. Working as part of a team and forming good relationships with my team has always been extremely important to me. As my role evolved and changed within the business so too did my relationships. Understanding that leadership could be lonely prepared me for the shift and allowed me to work out my leadership style to ensure I still had strong relationships with my team but understood that things would change.

Nothing Good Comes Easy. Every role model I have ever looked up to from a business sense has such an incredible story of passion, patience and persistence. This saying and those four words have really held me through some of the toughest parts of my career. Probably a little too literally and as a result I also love the saying work smarter not harder. Life is a balance and you aren’t at your best if you are burnt out. So, I reflect on this saying often to give my self-space or be kinder to myself with my workload to make sure I am the best I can be for the business, my clients and my team.

How are you going to shake things up next?

We are working on lots of exciting things from a brand standpoint none of which I can share much detail on! But I can say my marketing team are looking to create lots more personal interaction with our clients with opportunities for live Q&A’S as well as more fashion and fun content from a what to wear, style tips, do’s and don’ts with uniform via our platforms.

You will have to stay tuned…

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

One of my all-time favourite business reads is Jim Collins book, Good To Great. Each page and chapter were so relatable with so many takeaway’s that it really is hard to sum it up here. We are going through major shifts and changes in the business at the moment with the role out of a new system and the way we do everything is up for review, so the below quote is probably what I reflect back on the most at the moment.

“Management teams consist of people who debate vigorously in search of the best answers, yet unify behind decisions, regardless of parochial interests.”

This really resonated with me, being a family business and having long term members of our management team who have become like family. We are all very passionate and fiery and debates can get heated in our weekly management meeting, which used to really stress me out! This quote really put light on it and I often will break up a debate by saying, great we all care and are passionate and its ok if we disagree- it mean’s we can keep pushing till we get the right answer.

My other favorite takeaways from the book is the perspective on culture, HR and your team and these quotes have really changed the way we approach recruitment and management of our people.

“People are not your most important asset, the right people are.”

And one I often quote when it comes to managing our staff and having the best people on our journey is the below-

“Get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus and then figure out how to drive it.”

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If I could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people (which sounds like a huge amount of pressure by the way) I would inspire confidence. I have spoken often about imposter syndrome and not feeling worthy or capable of the positions we hold in life and it still amazes me the amount of people that suffer with this feeling in silence. If we could talk more openly about these feelings regardless of our position, role or status, share stories we would inspire confidence by simply making people feel less alone. With the rise in social media and sharing our picture-perfect lives, comparison syndrome and feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt and insecurity have never been more prevalent. I often think back to my teen years and how difficult they were without the pressures of social media and my heart breaks for the pressure our young people must feel. So, I would love to inspire confidence by talking about my imperfections, struggles and pain points and encourage a movement where we all did the same and helped eliminate this need for perfection that our society is driving.

Can you please give us your favourite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Count to Ten.

Having started the business at 21 I was young, competitive and impulsive. A lot of decisions and reactions where made on the fly which mostly worked but also sometimes backfired and when they backfired the repercussions where huge.

I remember being told once to count to ten before I reacted and rethink the situation with a clearer and calmer mind set. What difference is it going to make if you hold reacting or making a decision in that moment? And the answer was not much. As a result, today if I am unsure or know I am reacting in the moment emotionally I take some time to step away, think things through and then respond. This quote has gotten me through so many difficult moments and absolutely taken the pressure of responding or reacting on the spot.

I will often say to my management team, staff or clients if they are pushing for an answer in the moment that I need the time to process and will come back to them.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram:

@pamjabbour

@totalimagegroup

Linkedin:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/pamela-jabbour-875a2325/
https://www.linkedin.com/company/total-image-group

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/TotalImageGroup
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