Natalie, on her passion for leading and developing a team
Before joining Experian, Natalie worked in a call centre. Now, she’s had opportunities she never imagined and is exceling as a Senior Team Manager..
What’s your career path been?
I came in as a Customer Service Advisor for Credit Expert in December 2011. I then went through the ranks within that department, to Senior Customer Service Representative then to a manager support role. Then moved on to manage my own team within that space. During my time within Customer Services, I made some significant improvements to team engagement and results and I won the Heart of Experian Elite Award where I was treated to a fantastic holiday to South Africa. It was incredible.
Then an opportunity came up in Data Operations, to be the manager of the voters’ roll team. It was a stretch for me because prior to Experian I worked in a call-centre role. But I’m one for new challenges. I met the team and pretty much started from scratch. I spotted an opportunity for a review of processes and the team's performance and the service we provided to our customer improved dramatically.
It was identified that we have three pockets of teams all dealing with consumer data and it was all a bit fragmented so I put a proposal together to create the Consumer Data Management team. We did a restructure, gave everyone the correct job titles for their roles, and some people got promoted. I was promoted to Senior Team Manager and manage the Consumer Data Management team.
Currently, we’re working to bring everyone together and aiming towards being a Centre of Excellence. The teams consist of voters’ roll, rental data, and credit account information sharing (CAIS) data – the three pockets of data we work with.
What does your role involve?
The teams predominantly process and amend customer data, whether that be voters’ roll data, rental data, or consumer CAIS information. That process starts with contacting the provider of that information, sometimes paying for it, and agreeing contracts. It then comes into the system and we data quality check it and make sure it's fit for purpose.
My role is overseeing all of that, making sure that the end-to-end processes are executed. There’s a lot of smaller work streams that I'm involved in. I do a lot of mentoring too – there's a couple of newer team managers in my department and in other parts of the business that have approached me over the last six months and asked me to mentor them. Currently that just involves sitting down with them, helping them out with any specific issues they've got and just giving general advice.
The people-development side of things is very important to me. I've come up from an entry-level role through to where I am now and that has all been through support from others, mentoring, online learning and formal training. In 2014, I completed the national diploma level three for management. As part of that process I have now become an ambassador for the Service Academy Programme, which offers our NVQs apprenticeship, I think it's invaluable. I try to bring an honest and realistic approach when I'm talking to these people – I tell them it’s hard work but it's absolutely worth it. I’m now also in my 1st year of the CMDA (Chartered Management Degree Apprenticeship) this is a 4-year degree which is supported by Experian which will enhance my learning even further.
What does a typical day look like for you then?
I start by looking at where we are, whether we've got any escalations, or any client queries and then day-to-day assessments of where the team's at. Following that, it’s just really going through a to-do list. That generally consists of things like project work; we're very heavily focused on making things simple and easy for customers and colleagues.
People development is close to my heart so I work with each pocket of my team to make sure the processes they're using are fit for purpose, that they’re right for them and right for the client.
There's a few projects that I review on a daily basis, things like automation opportunities, outsourcing opportunities, and just streamlining and enhancing processes. I also deputise for the Consumer Operations Manager. Anything that she's either not able to deal with or feels is suited to my skill set will come my way.
How do you feel Experian have helped you develop?
Massively, from the ground up really. It’s hard work, obviously, but the environment we create here at Experian is very family orientated. Everybody is so willing to help, I've always found there's someone to go to that will know the information that you need and will happily provide you with that information.
There are opportunities aplenty if you want them. Even before the Service Academy was launched earlier this year, there were NVQs last year, plus e-learning courses. I've always just asked: “Can I go on this? Last year there was a TED Talk by Simon Sinek on leadership and millennials and how that would affect the workplace – it was something that I was interested in so I approached my senior leader, said I was interested and willing to come back and share the knowledge with everybody else. It was brilliant, and to know that that was facilitated by Experian made it even better.
What do you think are the key skills for somebody in a role like yours?
It's not necessarily academic skills to be honest. It’s more about persistence, and a passion for what you do. I feel a bit like a broken record when I say this but to be a people manager you've got to like people. You have to really want to invest in your people. Pretty much anyone can execute a task, but to develop people, understand what motivates them, spot when they are demotivated, want to get to know what makes them tick, give them opportunities… you need a passion for that. For me, it's not about coming in, sitting at my computer, running through my emails, going home. It's about what’s going to happen today that's going to change my career, change someone else’s, change the business.
And your team, what skills are needed for a Data Manager?
In my team, you need to be a problem solver, and let your mind explore different possibilities. You need analytical skills. We're looking at thousands, sometimes millions, of records and they need to be thorough, focused and detailed, to the point where some days everyone's got their headphones in and no one’s talking, everyone's concentrating. But equally we do take a breather and have that social time.
What’s the social side of things like?
I think if you asked anybody in my team, they’d say we’ve got a we've got a brilliant work-life balance. We always make sure there are one or two social events coming up, and we’ve got a board dedicated to that, plus photos of events from inside and out of work. Things like pub quizzes. Sometimes we’ll add a team-building activity or some food into our team meetings as well.
And we also just make sure there's enough down time so they people feel like they aren’t literally staring at the screen all day every day because it turns out to be counter-productive. In service, we've got the Make A Difference team, and we've got the Service FC, so both of those teams are dedicated to colleague engagement. We get involved in all the events that come our way. From games, fuddles and fancy dress to charity days and volunteering. We have recently completed a 5k inflatable run too – healthy body, healthy mind! Just taking yourself outside of work for five minutes and having that little bit of breathing space, it makes a world of difference.
What office do you work in? What do you like about it?
Lambert House. It is a real operational hub – it’s got the buzz, and it’s still got that family feel. We all look after each other, and you walk around the corridor and there's almost always somebody that you know. In that respect, the culture is brilliant.
We have the benefit of being in the middle of city centre with access by tram, train and bus. If you're going on a night out, you don't need to drive because you're in the middle of the city.
Which benefits do you use? What do you like?
Gym membership is great. A lot of us use the restaurant and drinks discounts. Plus a lot of sports centres and clubs are willing to give you discounts when you show your Experian pass - that's a real plus. There's the annual travel ticket loan. I've used that ever since I've started. I think that's brilliant. It's so much easier just whipping out your bus card and thinking you don't have to remember when to renew it. The eye care voucher scheme where you can go and get your eyes tested and then get money off glasses is really good as well. I have also recently started using the bike4work scheme too.
What makes Experian a good company to work for?
I think it's a combination of two things for me. I think it’s the people and the passion we’ve got here. Pretty much anyone that you speak to has the want to do things the right way. Then there’s the opportunities. As I say, I came from a call-centre background, and I never thought I'd be in a position where I could say, “I'm an experienced leader of people, and in 4 years I’ll become a chartered Manager holding a degree which is regarded the highest achievable in this profession.” I think that’s all down to the opportunities that have been provided by the company that I work for, and having the support network around me.
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