It's seven years now since I joined the Virgin Group. I started out heading up the People Team at Virgin Active where I spent three happy, challenging and fulfilling years before moving across to the technology, media and telecoms sector with Virgin Media.
What keeps me here is the people and the culture. There is a belief right across the Virgin Group that people can make the difference and that putting people first will help us take on the competition. Virgin operates in competitive sectors where we challenge the established players but throughout the acquisitions, site closures, redundancies, re-branding, changes in strategy and investment programmes we always try to make sure we look after our people.
During my seven years, I've seen some pretty amazing things - executive decisions to give everyone their birthday off, internal engagement levels actually increasing during an outsourcing programme, initiatives to re-employ ex-offenders, the covering of wages when a third-party outsource partner got into financial difficulty and the Chief Operating Officer giving out his personal mobile number to hundreds of frontline staff and encouraging them to call him if they ever have a problem.
We don't always get it right. There has been the odd occasion when a Director has cared more about their personal status than the welfare of their team and some testing times when draconian rules have been issued to manage costs. But more often than not, the culture has corrected its course and the leadership has admitted it got it wrong.
Our people and culture are what makes us zag when others zig. There is a uniqueness about the way we do things round here and the ‘red thread’ crosses the full span of the Virgin companies in different sectors and different countries.
My favourite moment? There have been so many, but here are my top five:
The Virgin recognition events I have been to (especially when it has involved fancy dress!)
The thank you letter I received from a Polish cleaner for funding her English language classes
Having a cup of tea with Richard Branson in his kitchen
Listening to customer calls in the Virgin Media contact centre in Wythenshawe
Assessing at the Graduate selection events
Every day that I work for Virgin, I learn something new from the people and culture. It’s simply a great place to work.