We want to know all about your story here at Vernacare. How long have you been with the Vernacare family?
I have been with the Vernacare family for 17 years! You might think that this makes me one of the ‘elder’ members of the family in terms of length of service, but there are 78 colleagues who have been with the business longer than me, which I think is a great testament to the company.
In these 17 years, I have always been Personal Assistant to the CEO at Vernacare although I have worked for three different CEOs, each of whom has brought their own style and way of working. You have to be very flexible and adaptive in a support role. My role is incredibly varied, which I enjoy. My duties range from managing contracts, such as distributor agreements and project work to more traditional P.A tasks such as diary management, record-keeping, research and hospitality. I have recently taken on the role of Chairman of the Social Club, which is an internal collective that organises events, such as the staff Christmas party. This is something I was previously involved with and I’m delighted to be back on the team and looking forward to organising this year’s events.
What do you enjoy most about your role? Can you pinpoint a highlight of your time here at Vernacare?
I’m motivated by helping people, which is what a support role is all about! Everyone is my ‘customer’; colleagues, contractors, contacts outside the business, visitors. They all receive the same attention and respect. I have seen a lot of changes at Vernacare and been privileged to work with some amazing people on some really interesting projects. I would definitely say that one of the highlights has been supporting the integration of Synergy Health Healthcare Solutions. Bringing the two businesses together meant a lot of hard work for everyone involved and some steep learning curves. From my perspective, my internal customers (colleagues) doubled and the first few months saw lots of questions and learning!
What values would you say are essential to be successful within your role and with life in general?
Generally, in life I think we could all try to listen more. Busy schedules, distractions and our own agendas often mean we are only part focussed when someone is talking. Stop, clear your mind and actually hear people, ask questions to check your understanding. It will improve your relationships and save time in the future!
For my role, I always try to be one step ahead anticipating the needs of individuals and the business, so careful planning, confidentiality, tenacity and patience are essential.
What would you say is your most significant personal achievement to date?
About 10 years ago I was persuaded by my previous boss to take part in the 5km Race for Life. I couldn’t run to catch the bus, never mind 5 kilometres! On the day, I only managed to run about 20% of the course, walking the rest, but I got such a buzz from the event that I decided to enter the Great Manchester 10km a few months later.
From a very unfit starting point, getting to 10km wasn’t easy but I loved the progress I was making every single day. After completing the race, I felt a massive sense of achievement. Not the type of person to do anything half-heartedly, I entered the London marathon, downloaded a training plan, trained for it alone with progressively longer runs and completed it in around 5 hours with horrific blisters, falling off toenails and pride to last a lifetime!
A couple of years later I did the Paris marathon which was an amazing experience! I was more relaxed this time and able to enjoy the landmarks along the way. I took over an hour off my time but was disappointed to narrowly miss finishing under 4 hours. Only 0.5% of the developed world has completed a marathon and I am extremely proud to be part of that tiny percentage! I intend to complete more marathons in the future, having entered New York a few times but been unsuccessful in the ballot. I hope that one day I will be lucky enough to have the opportunity to take part in that one…and I WILL complete it under 4 hours!
Something a lot of people don’t know about me and I’m quite bemused by, is a few years ago I decided to take the exam for MENSA – the High IQ Society! Having done a few online tests with decent results, I sat two exams taking around 2 hours and with a score of 139 I was indeed certified in the top 2% of the population and qualified to join MENSA. However, I didn’t actually join… I just wanted to see if I could do it!
What do you enjoy doing when you are not at work?
Running! I am currently on a 1000km challenge for 2019. It’s a ‘virtual’ challenge, where the distance is logged via GPS on a fitness tracker. You have all year to complete the distance. I’m on track with 240km (150 miles) completed so far! My beautiful golden retriever Gracie is my running buddy. We love our runs, especially now the daylight and weather is improving. Keeping fit and being in the fresh air is important to me as it allows me to clear my head, switch off from work and eat lots of food!
Let’s have some fun! Tell us something you have always wanted to do and why?
I’m a very determined and focussed person and if I want to do something, I always find a way of doing it. Before Vernacare, I worked in travel for 10 years and have been fortunate to visit many places including Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, Hawaii, Singapore, Iceland, the majority of Europe and the Caribbean. My favourite place in the world is Barbados, closely followed by Singapore, where I had the benefit of ‘local knowledge’ on my visits last year, staying with my friend and colleague Sarah Bown who manages the Asia Pacific region for Vernacare. The one thing I have always wanted to do would be the Wainwright Walks in the Lake District. I love being in the fresh air and the beautiful English countryside, with Gracie of course! Anyone fancy joining us?