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08 Mar 2024

International Women’s Day 2024: AKW Women Climbing the Ladder

- Written by Connor

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2024, we’ve spent time getting to know some of the women in our workforce.

Women make up 35% of the team across AKW Holdings and occupy roles at all levels, from our board of company directors to our warehouse team.

The average length of service for our female employees is 7 years, a figure we’re incredibly proud of as we’re passionate about developing careers, engaging in training, and supporting women during all stages of their lives, including through parenthood and menopause.

This 8th March we’re shining a spotlight on three women at AKW, all of whom have progressed to management roles since joining us, while maintaining busy and fulfilling lives outside of work.

Between them they share a combined total of 28 years’ experience with AKW, so we spoke to Lucy, Helen, and Laura to find out what makes them proud to be part of our team!

Lucy Taylor – Customer Services ManagerInternational Women's Day

Proud mother of two teenagers Lucy began her journey with AKW 11 years ago when she joined us as a temporary Customer Services Advisor in our fast-paced Customer Services Centre.

After successfully securing a permanent position, she rose up the ranks and gained invaluable experience as a Team Leader and then a Coordinator, before being promoted to Customer Services Manager, a role she has held for the last four years.

What does the Customer Services Manager do day-to-day?

“A lot of trouble shooting, dealing with curveballs, and thinking on your feet! Responding and following up on queries from the team, while continuously improving our systems and processes – just because we’ve always managed something a certain way, doesn’t mean there isn’t a SMARTER way!

Monitoring available levels of stock along with incoming volumes of work to ensure we can meet demand, and critically evaluating the quality of the service being delivered too. When challenges arise, we work out solutions and move forward by identifying the issue, establishing a resolution, and preventing it happening again.

Consulting with the Coordinators to ensure we’re always offering the best service to our customers, while also making sure we look after the wellbeing of our staff – these are our key priorities in a high-pressure environment such as a contact centre.”

What is the most rewarding element of your role?

“I take so much pride in seeing how hard the Customer Service team work to deliver the highest level of service to our customers, often seeing them go above and beyond. If I walk through the office and can see people smiling and are happy, then I know we’re on the right track.

Seeing new starters bloom and flourish, and hearing comments that they really enjoy working with us and it’s the best role they’ve ever had – that is very special. As is watching members of my team progress; I’ve had the pleasure of promoting several Advisors within the department which just goes to show that hard work really does pay off.

As a team, we stay positive and we do our best – I couldn’t ask for more.”

What do you love most about being part of the AKW team? 

“Where do I start? I love that whatever department I liaise with the responses are always friendly and professional. I love that we promote from within – I’ve been given so many great opportunities at AKW which I’m so grateful for.

We care about our customers, and we care about our staff. AKW cares.”

What’s been your proudest achievement?

“Independently supporting my two children for the last 12 years, while also progressing to a management position within a fantastic company!”

Outside of work, what do you enjoy doing?

“Spending time with my children (19, 17), even though they’re growing up, we have a lot of love and respect in our house, and I encourage them like I would anyone in my team – you’re capable of anything you set your mind to, where there is a will there is a way.

I enjoy walking anywhere by water with my fiancé and taking photos, capturing moments. My dad was always filming my sisters and I dancing and mucking about on the cine camera, and my mum would ask us to pose before we ate meals, so cameras have always been around! I treasure those memories and I’m always running out of storage on my phone!

I’m attempting to get my fitness back through running and I’ve recently joined a gym so I’m giving swimming and some classes a whirl. I also love time with my gorgeous rescue cat Milo, the team know him well as he often joins my video calls! As well as listening to mindfulness podcasts and watching bingeworthy series to unwind and just switch off…”

 Helen Gascoyne-Davies – Group HR DirectorInternational Women's Day

When she’s not standing on the side of a football pitch, Helen heads up our Human Resources division as Group HR Director, a role which oversees HR for our employees in the UK, Isle of Man, France and Belgium, and the US.

Having joined the AKW HR team 10 years ago, Helen originally joined us as Group HR Advisor and progressed to Interim Group HR Manager, before her promotion to Director 14 months ago.

What does a day as Group HR Director look like?

“My role is very varied and no two days are the same – that’s why I love working here and within HR. It’s a Group role, therefore I oversee HR for all our teams across the globe, with each jurisdiction having different needs, and operating with different legislation, which can be a challenge!

The HR team work really well together, and we meet regularly to go through operational requirements and the projects we’re working on to support the business needs. I’m involved in recruitment, induction and onboarding, performance management, career conversations, training, employee relations, employee health and wellbeing, policies and procedures; I also attend various meetings at operational and strategic levels.”

What’s the most rewarding part of your role?

“I love working with people, everyone is unique and I get great satisfaction from supporting employees to grow in their roles and help them to reach their full potential.”

What is it about AKW that gets you up in the morning? 

“It’s a great company to work for – it’s fast paced, varied, and we have great products which really do ‘Make Life Better’. It’s a company where I feel, we all make a difference. It’s also an entrepreneurial company and I’m a true believer in what you put in – you do get back!”

What’s your proudest achievement?

“I feel that the HR department is always on-hand to support Managers and Directors to work in a professional way. We’ve built a great team and we make a difference – I’m very proud of that.

On a personal note, I’m a working Mum and I know I don’t always get it right, but I’m sure my children take inspiration from me working hard and being in a career that I’ve always enjoyed. It can be manic trying to obtain a work life balance, but I wouldn’t want it any other way!”

Outside of AKW, what brings you joy?

“I have a very busy family life!  I’m a taxi service for my children who attend many different clubs, and you can find me every Saturday morning stood on a cold, often wet football pitch supporting my family, with my husband the coach for my son’s football team. I still don’t understand the offside rule after watching football for many years! 

I’ve also started yoga, which is my ‘me time’ and time I value very much; I also love nothing more than catching up with friends, near and far. Time just flies by way too fast!”

 Laura Corrall – Customer Services Projects & Training ManagerInternational Women's Day

With seven a half years’ service at AKW, cat-lover and gaming enthusiast Laura has progressed from Customer Services Advisor, to Coordinator, Senior Coordinator, and Projects Manager, before becoming our Customer Services Projects & Training Manager, a role she loves and has held for three and a half years.

What does being the Customer Services Projects & Training Manager involve?

“My day-to-day routine varies significantly based on upcoming product releases, ongoing internal projects, and identified knowledge gaps, but primarily, my role revolves around managing and supporting projects related to the Customer Services team and our customers, providing product training to customer-facing staff, conducting inductions for new team members, and offering support in the department whenever necessary.”

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

“It’s challenging to choose just one thing because my role is so diverse, however, if I had to pick, it would be a tie between being engaged in numerous projects, exploring various business areas, collaborating with different departments, and creating training materials.

The most fulfilling moment is during training sessions when I witness someone’s expression when everything clicks, and they grasp something they were previously unfamiliar with or didn’t have as much knowledge on.”

What’s your favourite thing about working for AKW?

“The remarkable individuals I work with. Every day, I’m fortunate enough to collaborate with so many wonderful colleagues. More than that though, the satisfaction comes from knowing that our products have the potential to significantly impact people’s lives. We assist them in overcoming challenges that many of us may overlook, enabling them to regain independence, a privilege that is often vastly underestimated.”

What’s your proudest achievement to date?

“Graduating from university, though it feels like ages ago now, remains my greatest source of pride. Despite the scepticism of many teachers who doubted my capabilities, I was not only accepted, but I also earned my degree, marking a significant personal triumph.”

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

“You’ll usually find me with my nose stuck in a book or spending arguably too much time playing video games, as well as filling my phone with photos of my two cats, and attempting to master the art of Pilates with questionable grace!”

 

 

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