International Women's Day - Lauren McCullough
This week we’ve been celebrating International Women’s Day (8th March). We’ve asked some of our female colleagues about their career, from leaving school all the way through to what they are doing today. Our final interview comes from Lauren McCullough:
Lauren McCullough, Continuous Improvement Delivery Manager, npower
“I joined npower in 2010 straight out of University where I studied Sports Journalism and Magazine Design at Sunderland and moved onto the Graduate Scheme. I am a passionate and highly ambitious individual who thrives when working under pressure and having the ability to challenge the norm. My strengths include story boarding and communicating, driving performance of both my team and achieving tangible results through both motivation and problem solving skills. I take great pride in being confident, efficient and bringing fun into the workplace.
For the first two years on the graduate scheme I had to take various placements across the business;
- PR – Football League Sponsorship: My role was a PR sponsorship executive. I had to directly liaise with Football Clubs and PR Agencies to ensure we were maximising our return on investment. The job also included hosting competition winners and sponsorship events around the country.
- Change and Service Improvement: I made the decision to move up to the North East and gain experience in Customer Service, recognising that this is where I could gain some real leadership experience. My specific role was to take accountability for delivering digital change and set up Web Chat.
- Complaints Operational Manager: For my final placement I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone and manage our customer facing teams in our most challenging environment; complaints, where I was responsible reducing the volume of our complaints. This was the job that cemented my passion within npower, which was improving our service to customers and developing people. I got offered this job on a permanent basis and this was my first step out of the graduate scheme and into a ‘proper’ job!
You have to have some pretty broad shoulders to manage people through a change curve, both emotionally and technically. The biggest challenge when managing a team is being is able to create a resilience and tenacity in yourself to ensure you are provide consistency and belief for the team. Being able to adapt your leadership style is key when managing on a large scale because you have to recognise that everybody’s values and beliefs are different and therefore not everybody will react in the same way.
I get my energy and drive from seeing a change in people and from my experience, the easy part of the job is changing a process or building a solution, however transforming a culture is what makes the job extremely hard, but without that this, the job wouldn’t be so rewarding!
I absolutely love problem solving! Working in Continuous Improvement means that there are always things to improve or problems to solve, but it genuinely gets me out of bed every morning knowing that myself and the team can really make a difference for the business and the customer with the solutions that we come up with. I thrive under pressure and having to work to really tight deadlines and the knowledge I have gained over the last few years means I now see work through a completely different lens and I am constantly looking for opportunities to make a difference.
The boldest thing I’ve ever done in my career is probably finishing in the top 3 for the National Young Energy Professional of the Year Awards in 2015 for Customer Focus. I am so proud of this achievement and never thought I would get recognised externally for something that I am passionate about and for a category that is so close to my heart! It was some of the toughest years of my career so far and there were a lot of emotions and challenges along the way but it was a time that genuinely changed my outlook on what I want to do for the rest of my career.
People ask why I chose this career after studying sports journalism. The honest answer is there wasn’t a lot of money in being a trainee sports journalist and I decided to join a graduate scheme so I could start earning a bit more money to buy a house. However the reason I chose npower was because we had just taken the Football League Sponsorship and my first placement was in PR which was closely linked to the press and media which was a very similar skill set.
When I left the graduate scheme, I developed a passion for customer service and realised I was pretty good at it! I was then talent spotted within the operation as a candidate to work in our transformational teams and was trained up. They genuinely changed the outlook for my career and introduced me to new tools and skills and I fell in love with it! Ultimately I would love to join the dots with my passion for sports media and lean transformation and do this type of role for Sky/BBC later on in my career.”
Get involved with International Women’s Day at https://www.internationalwomensday.com