I initially joined Vodafone in 2011 as a customer services advisor, after working in various roles and trusts within the NHS for several years. Based in Didsbury, the role was aligned to the Indirect channel, assisting both customers and business partners with queries relating to mobile accounts. This part of the business had until recently been an independent organisation called Yes Telecom, who had been bought out by Vodafone. As a result, there was a very unique culture and way of operating compared with the rest of VF UK that took some getting used to, as it was nothing like my impression of what it would be like to work in telecommunications. Nevertheless, it didn’t take me long to be fully skilled, and within my first year I felt fully proficient in handling almost any query.
A few months into the role, I looked into what local opportunities there might be for career progression, and commercial was something that greatly interested me. I was given permission by my line manager to do a ‘day in the life’ with the Indirect Commercial Team (deal desk). Bridging the gap between sales, finance, and customer service, with a focus on analytics and figures, straight away I knew it was a role I wanted to pursue. Unfortunately it was another 2 years until such a vacancy would become available!
When a position did become available, for a 12 month secondment into the team as a Commercial Specialist, I applied immediately and to my absolute delight I was offered the role shortly after interviewing for it. The main tenants of the role were supporting bids for our external partners to acquire and retain customers, through bespoke funding, commission, pricing, and terms, and dealing with in-life issues relating to commercially sensitive issues. When the 12 months came to an end, I was offered an extension, and continued in the role.
Eventually, with the support of my manager and the rest of my team, the head of Enterprise Commercial offered me a permanent role along with a significantly improved salary. This genuinely ranks as one of the most life-changing moments I can recall, being offered a permanent role in a job I enjoyed doing every single day, surrounded by a team that I would describe as not just great colleagues, but also great friends.
At the end of 2016, over 3 years into the role, I was told that due to resourcing issues elsewhere, I would be moved from the Indirect commercial team, into the Regional Business commercial team. While there was some trepidation at first, it was a new challenge and one that I was eager to take on.
Six months down the line, I found that while I still enjoyed the role, I needed to test myself further and to diversify my portfolio, which prompted me to look further afield for new opportunities. I applied for several roles, with varying success in terms of getting to the interview stage, until I was actually contacted by a colleague I had worked with in the Indirect team, advising that there was a role soon to be advertised, encouraging me to apply for the role as a Commercial Performance Specialist. Around the same time, I was invited to interview for a role that I had previously turned down an interview for on the basis of locality, as it would mean a lot of travelling, and several days a week in Newbury.
Shortly after interviewing for the Commercial Performance Specialist role, I was offered the position. At something of a crossroads, with the opportunity for a higher band role on the horizon, that would come with a higher salary, and more career opportunities stemming from a Newbury-based role, I sought the advice of family, friends and colleagues in what to do. I received lots of contracting advice; one could be seen as a sideways move, the other as a huge step up, did I really want to spend half my life away from home, staying in hotels? Eventually, one friend asked me simply “Which would make you happiest?” Immediately I knew what the answer was, and the next day I contacted the recruitment department to accept the role as Commercial Performance Specialist. While it is a move back to a department I’ve worked in previously, it’s a very different role in terms of scope to anything I’ve done before, focusing on trading and performance rather than transactional bids, and indeed is itself a newly created role. It is a daunting prospect to take on a role where I’m working independently, as opposed to my previous team-based roles, but I hope that with the support of my wider network, I’ll be able to take on the challenge and excel at it.
I had always worried that my lack of a university degree could hold me back, but here, I feel that the support structure is there for skills to be recognised and rewarded, regardless of background. Vodafone is an organisation that I am lucky and proud to work for, and hope to do so for years to come.