I’m currently the Chief of Staff at Motability Operations (this is very different to a Chief of People role which it’s often confused with!). I work for and with the CEO on a range of initiatives and projects across the organisation including working with our executive team on our future strategy, helping business areas drive new initiatives forward and I work with key stakeholders – new and old to identify how we can work together and support our customers best.
I joined the company on the graduate programme in 2005 spent time in various roles around the business. Since 2008 I’ve predominantly worked in IT project and portfolio management and IT Procurement. I think I’ve had 11 different roles over the years and been able to shape roles and teams throughout this time…which is a big part of why I’ve been here for such a long time! Lots of opportunity and lots of support for development.
From the beginning of my engagement with the company I was very open about anxiety and periods of depression. I often struggle with change and so moving to London, a new job was challenging for me, but work were incredibly supportive and gave me the time and space that I needed. New starters to MO often say that they can’t believe how nice everyone is…but it’s true…and even when I’d been here for only a few months, there were people who would take time to listen to me on my bad days and help me work out a plan to ensure I was had the support that I needed.
This open and supportive nature has been evident and accessible in every role I’ve been in…from being a new graduate to working with the CEO. I find if you’re willing to and able to be open, to be your authentic self you will get the support you want and need. It can be hard, and you might be scared or fearful of judgement but my personal experience is that being yourself from day 1 is fundamental to your happiness (and subsequently success!) at work.
We have an excellent disability network and I work closely with the lead. It’s such a great place for people to go to for support, for questions, advice. I’m so proud of the organisation for putting these networks in place and for the Leads who have made them safe and welcoming environments for people to access.
I think the skill / strength that my disability has given me, is that I know how bad things can be on bad days so when I see people having a difficult time, not being themselves, I have a perspective that I can offer or where I can offer a space to talk. I also know from talking openly with other people that everyone’s circumstance is different and it’s always important to acknowledge that. And listening…sometimes people just need to talk, judgement and advice free…just to be heard, just to get stuff out of their heads.
I recently had hearing aids fitted as I have single sided deafness…I probably told 5 people at work on the first day of wearing them…I was quite conscious of them but thought that I actually wanted to embrace them…and that it was a big deal for me…life changing in fact! I probably told everyone I spoke to that day….and everyone was intrigued and interested. I can’t imagine being at an organisation where you didn’t feel like you could bring your whole self to work…it’s so, so important. So, my advice is find somewhere where you can be you…from day 1 (which is technically the application process). Life is too short for anything less!