Having spent many years in retail management from convenience stores to small department stores I decided to finally do a degree and spent six years working full-time and completing a BSc Hons with the Open University. I majored in Statistics and Probability and minored in Systems Analysis. This was my first taste of algorithms and solving real problems with mathematics. Were the German bombs in World War 2 really targeted or completely random?
Having completed my degree I joined the John Lewis IT Graduate scheme as a trainee programmer and within six months I was promoted to programmer. Still having an interest in Operational Research from my degree I transferred to the Productivity Analysis team becoming a qualified Work Measurement Analyst conducting studies in all the John Lewis distribution centres and also designing equipment for the movement of goods around the DCs and the prototype of the racking for the Waitrose Deliver vehicles.
Following a move up North I spent the next 4 years working in the Employee Assistance department which also involved encouraging the staff involvement in the democracy and the in-store launch of the annual Partner Survey. I also acted as Editor for the weekly in-house staff magazine.
After nearly 10 years with the Partnership I was itching to try my hand at running my own business. Having heard so many of my management colleagues moaning about their cleaners I saw an opportunity to start a cleaning service that mirrored the Partnership reputation for excellent customer service and professional staff. And so HouseWorks was born and I have been it's MD for the last 13 years.
I feel that I've achieved what my objective was with the business and it's time to hand it over to someone else and find a new challenge.
When I joined the Pay & Personnel Team in the IT department at John Lewis it was just before Y2K so my first few months were spent doing a lot of code testing to make sure it wouldn't fall over. The main programming language at that time was COBOL and DB2 and within a few months of starting I was coding new programs for the upcoming Student Loans and Tax credits legislation. I also spent time on the Accountancy team as a Hit Person which honed my problem solving skills.
As a small business owner you have to turn your hand to anything and everything, from fixing equipment, sales and marketing, book-keeping, recruitment and training. One minute you are in a suit in a customers house doing a quote, the next changing the tyre on a van. So adaptabilty and great problem solving skills are essential.
I also have to develop a connection with new clients very quickly in order for them to trust us with their home. I have the confidence and integrity for clients to Know, Like & Trust me within a very short space of time.
One thing I have been passionate about is using technology and building systems to make running the business easier and more efficient. I have regularly appraised scheduling and CRM software to find the best in class for the business and then implemented it, getting the buy-in of staff and customers.
The business started off as a franchisee but following the franchisor going into liquidation I was suddenly in crisis management mode and had to completely rebrand the business in a very short space of time. This stood me in good stead when another franchisee had to suddenly leave his business due to illness with only one days notice and overnight I took on board his clients and staff. So managing change is something I excel at.
From my early tech experience I have always felt that coding married the creative side of my personality with my very logical brain. Coding to me is like telling a story but in a very technical language. For the last 13 years I have been a frustrated developer. Having tried a number of scheduling software brands my cry of "if only I had the time to learn, I could do something so much better" is regularly heard by my husband. And that desire to improve the status quo is what led me to start my own business and what has now led me back to the Tech industry. A great app or program has the ability to change lives.
I am absolutely fascinated with the potential of 3D printers having seen one build 10 houses in 24 hours. How long before they can print any human body part? Is that when we effectively become immortal?
I am an ideas generator, constantly looking at the future, at how things can be improved, how technology can solve some of our biggest problems. So a role within Data Analytics, AI, machine learning would be ideal.
However I also love design, whether that's something as practical as van racking or marketing materials for my business so front-end development, user experience would also be an area I'd love to pursue. I believe good software should be intuitive for the user, you shouldn't need to read a manual to be able to use it.
I am looking for somewhere where I feel I can add value as I will be motivated., where will I feel most at home and want to stay as long as I have done with previous companies. That comes down to being challenged and being able to challenge, being able to try new things and being allowed to fail, being part of a team that is brave, supportive and visionary. I might not have all the coding skills required yet but I'm a fast learner and can add value straight away from the corporate and SME experience that I've had.