Should I stay or should I go?
I have asked myself this question so many times over recent years, but there is the debate to be had as to why you would move organisations if you are still progressing in your career and being challenged. Especially, if that role gives you the right level of flexibility and work-life balance. Some may argue that you become too comfortable and institutionalised. At Capita, I genuinely believe that is not the case.
So, where did it all start?
I joined Capita 16 years ago at the age of 21, expecting to stay for a few years to get some experience. Never did I think I would be here 16 years later, leading our Performance & Development function and on the People Leadership team.
I left school after my A Levels and started an apprenticeship at a car manufacturer. Two years later, I was made redundant. I had no idea what I wanted to do, but the rotational nature of the apprenticeship allowed me to try lots of different areas of the business and I just fell in love with HR during my placement there. This is why I am a huge advocate for apprenticeships.
I started my journey with Capita as a recruitment co-ordinator on Capita’s Transport for London (TFL) contract. This role was brilliant and it felt like my first ‘proper’ job. I met some amazing people and started my CIPD qualification.
I then learnt very quickly that the best way to progress was through internal mobility. Building a strong network and looking for opportunities for both lateral and vertical moves to gain more experience and exposure. I graduated with my CIPD and started to get more exposure to organisational development and learning. I moved divisions and spent a couple of years as an organisational development consultant. Then the fun really started, and I took six months out to have my first baby.
In 2012, I progressed into my first management role as Recruitment, Learning & Development Manager on one of our Public Services contracts. This was a hugely challenging yet rewarding role and alongside this I was planning my wedding.
After getting married, I moved into Capita Learning to do various client facing roles before moving into the central Performance and Development function in 2019. I had an incredible manager in this role who pushed me out of my comfort zone. They encouraged me to start my Masters in Leadership, funded by Capita’s apprenticeship levy and exposed me to lots of challenging experiences, which I’ve learned a lot from.
Fast forward 16 years, 8 roles, 1 marriage and 2 children: last year I was promoted into a leadership role as the people director for Performance and Development. This has been a huge aspiration of mine for a long time. I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to be on the People Leadership Team, despite battling with my own imposter syndrome. I have an amazing team who inspire me every day and I love being in a role where I can have a direct impact on helping our colleagues to reach their full potential.
That’s not to say that working in Capita has always been easy. I have thought about leaving a number of times, but whenever I spoke to my mentor their advice was clear: challenging businesses are made for good people. There is always more opportunity to learn in a constantly evolving environment. Every manager I’ve had has inspired me to follow my passions and constantly pushed me to do more, fostering my curiosity to learn.
Just in the last 18 months, I’ve learned how essential it is to be your authentic self, rather than the person people expect you to be. As a leader, I now understand that you have to be open and authentic to build trust with others. You can’t be scared or ashamed to show your vulnerability. And that helps with my own imposter syndrome too. I surround myself with a strong team and peer group. I’m data driven so that I always have the insight to be inquisitive. I listen, to ensure differing opinions and viewpoints are heard and valued. If I can lead the way then everyone else will feel comfortable being their authentic selves at work. In a world where there’s increasing societal pressure, the one thing we never want is for employees to feel pressure to be someone other than themselves.
As a mum of two myself, I also believe in a healthy work-life balance. Flexibility is a must for everyone these days and as employers we should create a culture where all that matters is delivering better outcomes. Capita has given me that flexibility, allowed me to finish my Masters and allows me to be transparent about attending things like sports day and school plays which are incredibly important to me. I can always prioritise an early morning or lunchtime run, to support my mental wellbeing too.
I genuinely believe Capita is an organisation where you can build a career. So, when it comes to retention of employees, there’s no one-size fits all. You have to take time to get to know what’s important to your employees and let them be their true selves. It’s about combining personal aspirations with flexibility and a great employee experience. If you can do that then you can really help to retain talent. And as for me, I decided to stay and it was the best decision I ever made.