International women’s day looks to businesses to do their bit in creating role models and good practices for women in work. This is something AYOM General Manager Marie Mitchell hopes to do in abundance as part of her role. With AYOM counting a number of women in prominent managerial roles including the customer service manager, collections manager and HR manager among others, Marie wants to continue this trend of empowerment and encouragement throughout the business. We sat down and asked her about her experience here and the plans for the future.
What is your experience as a female in a senior position?
During my career I quickly discovered that the greatest leadership lesson to be learnt was that you simply cannot do everything yourself. It is impossible to be completely hands on and train everyone. It is crucial as a leader to ensure all of your managers are equipped with the necessary resources to follow your strategy as a team.
Working within the debt recovery industry has presented me with specific challenges. In the early years of my career, I struggled as most working mothers do to work twice as hard to prove my worth. Nativity plays, orthodontic appointments and sports days were often missed and often my children would be the last ones left standing waiting at school gates 10 minutes after their friends had been collected.
I was determined to educate myself and undertook the daunting task of studying for a degree as a mature student whilst in full time employment. This was done to purposefully position myself in a company where I could influence management and ensure this no longer was an experience for other women.
Thankfully I think I have proven that it is possible to juggle both career and family and continue to meet the demands of work as well as raising a well-adjusted happy children, but would like to think as my daughters now embark on their chosen careers that the glass ceiling is not as daunting as it used to be. The workplace is now looking to welcome the vital skills and fresh ideas of young women in business today.
What makes AYOM’s environment empowering for women?
We put a lot of work into giving both men and women the ability to carve their own career path here. We offer a lot of training and in the past year have brought in our ‘pathway to success’ initiative for internal training. These sorts of incentives are there for men, women, part time and full time staff. The best result I’ve seen from this is the progression of a number of key managers. On the female front we’ve seen 1 new promotion in the past 6 months to management level with other female managers rising from junior roles.
Currently we have a senior management team of 9, 6 of them are women. Of those 6, many of them have gained promotion through hard work, education, development and good succession planning. Similarly to my last answer; I would suggest AYOM has removed the fabled glass ceiling with a view to an encouraging level playing field as a place of work and career progression.
So encouraging a culture of hard work?
Of course; I would describe AYOM as a meritocracy. We do our best to put the most qualified, best suited people in positions of power. That includes team leaders also below their line manager. If there are skills gaps we do our best to fill those with further education or assistance. We’ve worked hard over recent months and years to rethink and reshape our internal culture to suit our current objectives.
Our culture is now defined by 3 characteristics; integrity, commitment and empathy. Our culture is a workplace where each department carries out its duties with these 3 words in mind. Given we have a duty of care to both sides in the recovery process; it is important we act in the manner of the three characteristics. We’ve condensed the 3 into a suitable acronym I.C.E. With this we have been able to have some fun and remind our staff to think “ICE, ICE, baby” when thinking about culture and ways of working. We enjoyed coming up with this so much, it now takes pride of place on our lead generation wall.
People strategies are now much more important and I think we can see a great, diverse workplace of men and women of all ages coming together to create a profitable business.
This year’s international women’s day theme is #BalanceForBetter, would you say AYOM accomplishes this?
I like this theme as it makes sure it doesn’t marginalise anybody. As mentioned before, we have a very credible list of female managers alongside our male counterparts here. We’d never promote or restrict somebody here based on quotas or issues of male and female. What we do offer however is a great chance at progression through education and training. Because we offer this to everybody, we have a great talent pool of people ready to step into positions of seniority. That alone has made sure we balance our workforce but also create a team of staff capable of filling those roles well.
What would you say to tempt any potential female jobseekers interested into joining AYOM?
I’d love to get across the opportunities on offer here for women at all stages of their career. We are currently driving to increase our number of apprentices to give young people much needed on the job skills for one. For those with existing experience who are thinking of a change I’d point to our recent Investors in People accreditation success. We put stock in our staff, men and women, and have a work environment where you can thrive and progress based purely on effort and skillset. We do have openings for those seeking employment so if that is the case please do get in touch about what we can offer.
Want to be part of the culture?
Are You Owed Money Ltd is (as Marie pointed out) looking for new faces to help boost our services and continue our growth. We strive to have an environment perfectly suited to those working here and would love to have more talented individuals on board.
To ask about opportunities available, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call 0800130 3357 or ask us any questions through our social media channels. To find us on Twitter search @areyouowedmoney.