Su joined Wickes 28 years ago and has worked her way through the ranks from Store Colleague, to Regional Operations Manager. Su has always been an advocate for championing change and progression, and finding ways to help women succeed.
For International Women’s Day, we sat down with Su to learn more about her lived experience at Wickes and what it is that allows her to feel at home here.
Firstly, can you tell us a little more about your lived experience of being a female manager at Wickes and how that’s evolved over your time with the business?
Throughout my career, I’ve always felt supported at Wickes. However, 10-15 years ago I think being a woman made it a bit more challenging. It’s been difficult to break through as a woman. In the last few years, it’s become easier with so many programmes and initiatives to help champion women and encourage them to succeed.
I’m now part of a team that’s more female than male, which was unheard of and it’s great! I’m also part of the Balance for Better committee, where we support females coming through their career at whatever level, helping them with whatever they need to take the next step forward.
The committee looks at all sorts of things, from induction to recruiting. We host all sorts of celebration events, such as 2 years ago when we got 80 women together in a hotel and celebrated their stories and journeys. It was a great day of women meeting other women across the division.
Each region does their bit to track female progression and monitor the stats to ensure we’re looking at natural progression and considering how we can influence that going forward.
Sounds like some great moves are being made to encourage females to step into leadership positions at Wickes. We’ve also heard that you’ve participated in a Women for Future Training program, can you tell us a little more about this training and how you found it?
It’s been the most significant training program that I’ve done to date. It was really enlightening and gave me a gateway to move forward, unlocking things like confidence and networking limitations that were holding me back. It helped me think “hey I’m proud of the job that I do.”
I used to hide behind the opportunities that were put in front of me, but this really helped me to say “yes” to things.
The trainers were dedicated to female development and targeted their coaching on the specific things we needed. It gave me a new level of confidence that it’s okay to be a female and lead in my own natural way. I don’t need to take on a more dominant masculine persona to be able to progress. I know now that I can be me and still be successful.
Really important lessons for all females out there, not just at Wickes! Finally, do you feel at home at Wickes? And what do the words “feel at home” mean to you?
I feel more at home at work than when I’m at home! Being at Wickes is almost like a family. I don’t have any children but when I refer to being a Store Manager I talk about how I have 38 children! You’re helping colleagues be comfortable and successful in their lives and careers, and you also do that with customers as well.
I feel this massive sense of family. Working at Wickes is home to me, because we’ve got an amazing bunch of people. I don’t know how it’s happened but collectively we’ve got the most amazing people who have grown the business. There’s always things to go after and things to champion.