I dread social conversations when someone casually asks “What is it you do?”
So what’s the reason I struggle with this question? Is it because I have a really embarrassing job perhaps, such as a walking advertising board or maybe a socially irritating job such as a traffic warden? Actually, it’s neither of these.
If I answer the question with my actual job title which is a Motor Supply Chain Manager, generally I am met with blank looks which are then my cue to try and summarise exactly what I do into a sentence or two and therein lies the problem as this is simply IMPOSSIBLE!
My role is neither Monday to Friday nor is it 9am-5pm, both of which I would have thought would be important and absolutely paramount to measuring the desirability or enjoyability of a role. I can actually tell you neither of these things matter because what the role actually is, flexible, varied, exciting, frustrating, rewarding, fulfilling, agile, challenging, offering responsibility and accountability. Usually all of the above on any one morning of the week!
And what does my role entail you may wonder?
I work on any number of BAU activities or projects at any one time. I get involved in negotiating and implementing contracts, I interact with so many people at all levels of our business and other external businesses, I drive performance and monitor governance and compliance, I influence and impact business results, I build and maintain relationships and travel widely.
Which leads me to think about what I get out of all of that……..
I have spent the last eight years in the supply chain, coming into the role from operations with no experience or background in Supply Chain. I won’t try to tell you it wasn’t scary because it was downright petrifying! Especially when one of the Supply Chain managers at the time casually offered up the unsolicited advice that “you either sink or swim” and had me attempting to backpedal faster than Chris Lawless won the Tour De Yorkshire this year!
I can categorically say that advice proved to be wrong as I have never been anything other than supported and developed into the role from job shadowing and cutting my teeth on a “nice” account to where I am today managing one of the largest and most challenging Motor accounts that RSA has, still with the same support, in different people, and ability to grow and develop personally that I had on day one.
I have been able to gain a wide understanding of the industry and market as well as being able to spearhead a number of changes and drive better bottom-line results within our business.
I also meet different people and personalities all of the time, literally, it never ceases to amaze me how many various topics of conversation and perspectives I come across on a weekly basis.
Day to day I spend a lot of time thinking on my feet, adapting, interacting, travelling, managing conflict or just learning something new. You would think it would be exhausting and at times it can be but overall the one thing that is consistent about my role is that I can’t see why anyone would ever want to do a Monday to Friday 9am-5pm job!
So next time you ask someone what it is they do, and they answer with a simple job title, think about what actually sits behind those few words that they offer in reply and what they would actually say if they had half an hour to spend telling you about what it is they really do!
by Gemma Woodhead (UK)