A Day in the Life of Andrea Ratcliffe, Customer & Social Value Manager
Standing at 4ft 10 inches tall, our small but mighty Customer & Social Value Manager, Andrea Ratcliffe sat down with us to chat about her past experiences, what led to her being in a role that she loves and how culture really does make a massive difference to a business. Andrea’s wealth of knowledge and expertise means she knows her stuff when it comes to Customer Care and Social Value so grab a cuppa and enjoy the read.
Welcome to our next instalment of our ‘Day in the Life of’. A series of interviews with our people here at Connolly’s, providing insight into our day to day activities and our people.
So, let’s go back – can you give us a brief insight into your career path which has led you to be in the position you are today?
I started my career in the Travel Industry working my way up from a resort rep to a Resort Manager for Airtours. I absolutely loved the role because I was able to meet people from all around the world and deal with some very interesting situations (plus the Caribbean island I lived on, helped!) As I got older, I decided I wanted to return to the UK and be closer to my family as my parents weren’t getting any younger.
The day I flew back I was sat in my Aunt’s kitchen discussing my next steps when her friend dropped in for a cuppa who worked at Brammall Construction. She immediately said they were looking for an RLO and I would easily pick it up with my customer skills. I went for an interview the next day knowing nothing about the construction industry and was offered the role as soon as I walked out the door.
I worked at Bramall’s progressing to Senior Resident Liaison Officer and absolutely loved it; I only left because I married a Marine and moved down south. Once my husband had completed his service, we decided to move back to Lancashire, and I joined Connolly’s as a Customer Care Manager in 2018. The rest is history!
Are there any moments in your career, past or present, that stand out to you?
There are a few moments that stand out for me but my highlight has been working in the company I am in today; Connolly has become my family and they really do care about the people they employ and want to bring out the best in you. I have learned and grown so much as a person since starting here in 2018; I am also currently on the leadership program to enhance my skills even further which has already had a massive impact on my own personal development.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Skills is a tricky one as each situation you deal with is completely different. In terms of liaising with customers, you do need to have excellent customer service skills to liaise over the phone and face to face. You always need to listen well and read their body language and try and look at the whole picture before speaking with them.
I also manage a large team of RLO’s 27 No. strong ladies who all have their own skills they bring to the table; it’s about supporting them but allowing them to be self-sufficient in their own ability to complete their day-to-day tasks.
Finally, being approachable, I would like to think that I am and anyone can come to me with any problem without any judgment and all my team know that I am on hand 24/7, 7 days a week for them, it’s more than a job to me.
Can you tell us about a typical working day for you?
There is no typical working day for me which I am very thankful for! My day usually starts with checking through all my emails and our in-house customer registers to understand where we are up to.
My role is varied as I have two different hats to put on, one being Customer Care Manager where I support my team in carrying out their role and liaising with the clients we work for and the customers in their homes.
I am also the Social Value Manager for Connolly’s; which means I am involved in delivering social value to ensure the process from bidding stage right the way through to implementing and reviewing everything we have committed too; I love that it’s so varied and enjoy working with local schools/colleges right the way through to charities to support the communities we work in.
My role is extremely rewarding and I look forward to coming into work each and every day but that’s down to the environment I work in and the strong family-orientated culture we have, I absolutely love it and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
We can’t do an interview without mentioning COVID-19 as it is very much the topic of conversation at the moment. How do you think Connolly reacted to the pandemic and what kind of effect on the overall industry do you think it will have?
I think we reacted extremely well to the pandemic, first and foremost we were in constant communication with all of our employees to ensure they felt safe and secure in these unsettling times. We were incredibly proactive thanks to all our Senior Management Team, we worked together to create new policies and procedures to keep everyone safe and try and return to the new normal once safe to do so following government guidelines.
I feel it will have an impact for some time whilst we all try to navigate the ever-changing world. The pandemic hasn’t been all bad, especially for ourselves as I can see some real positive changes in the way we handle certain elements of our work, it’s also nice to see that I work for a company that really cares above and beyond.
Where do you see Connolly Ltd in 5 years?
I have watched Connolly grow and develop over the past few years since I joined in 2018; I think that Connolly’s will continue to enhance their employee’s skills and continue to grow steadily by bringing the best people in the industry into our business and developing our other business streams in build and development.
It will be a pleasure to a part of the journey.
Can you tell us about the hardest moment in your career and how you overcame it?
The hardest moment in my career was taking time out of the industry to be a mum and wife to a Royal Marine. You lose your identity and who you are and it’s definitely more challenging trying to manage twins, a daughter who is 8 going on 28, and my eldest who has autism (oh not to mention a husband who you never knew where he was due to the nature of his job)!. Thank goodness that is over and I am now able to work in a role I love and a workplace I also call home.
Connolly Culture is at the heart of the business – can you describe what the culture means to you?
The only way to describe the culture here is that we are all a family, when one limps, we all limp. It’s so unique that I can’t explain it and most people don’t believe me when I tell them.
We are all passionate about Connolly’s, we want our values to come across in everything we do; everyone cares and that makes a difference. I love working here but it’s down to the people I work with and I feel privileged to be a part of it.
What do you believe is the greatest thing that Connolly Ltd has achieved so far?
I think our greatest achievement is that we employ local people in every community we work in, we shop locally giving back to the local economy, and ensure continuity for local businesses.
Do you have any advice for people who want to work in the Construction industry?
Be passionate about what you are doing, that goes for any role in the industry; try hard and strive to achieve the best outcome, that might be a joiner installing a kitchen to a high standard, a customer liaison officer going above and beyond their own duties. That little bit of extra care goes a long way and it won’t see you wrong.
What do you love most about your job?
I don’t think I can really pin point what I love the most as I love every aspect of it, but a lot has to be down to the environment and Connolly culture I work in.
Finally, if there was one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Put your hand up if you don’t know something and someone will always reach out to help.
Don’t be afraid and enjoy the journey; challenge yourself and always be kind to others.
Jump in the helicopter and see the bigger picture!