Career spotlight on Leisa - celebrating our WOW
It's International Women’s Day this Thursday and we're celebrating it our way. We're starting by celebrating our WOW (Women Of William Hill)
Length of Service:
Twenty five years this year.
What got you here?
It all started with an interview in the kitchen in one of our shops. I was in my early twenties and just needed a job to keep my S registered Escort (my pride and joy!) on the road, but it very quickly turned in to so much more!
I got the job and started a four week training course and was then put on relief shifts. I remember looking at all the screens behind the counter and asking what all the numbers were – it was the horse racing! I’d never set foot in a bookies before. My training was textbook with a fabulous team who made me feel valued. This really helped me with settling in and helping with my confidence in learning the role. The people I have met and worked with, both past and present, have largely been the best part of working at William Hill; I have had the privilege of working with some truly inspirational people.
The same however couldn’t be said for other shop managers! When on my first shift away from my initial shop a customer came in and asked for a price and I couldn’t find it. I was told by the manager that I wasn’t any good to him if I couldn’t even find a price. This upset me at the time, but with my fighting spirit I was even more determined to build up my knowledge and confidence.
As soon as I started and realised what William Hill was, and still is, about and how important it was to have banter with customers, I realised it was the place for me. It was a few years until I realised I wanted to progress. I wanted to buy my own house and so required more money, and qualified to be a Deputy Manager. I moved to one of our busiest shops until a manager vacancy became available. It was an 80 mile round trip every day, but I did that for about six months until I got offered a shop in Lancaster. This was only a 60 mile round trip in a city centre, and a higher grade shop, so I was thrilled!
I then went on maternity leave and when I came back after 10 months I was offered a shop close to home. My Area Manager at the time welcomed me back and offered me some development to help balance being a working mum with progressing my career. I was put into another high Grade shop and my line manager got me involved in more things such as interviewing, training and running development courses.
Another experience that I had involved my District Ops Manager (DOM). I told him I too aspired to be a DOM, and he told me I wouldn’t make it because I had children! That gave me even more drive to prove him wrong. I applied for the Shop Manager Development Programme and within a month a DOM role came up in Manchester. I went for it and got the job! I have been really fortunate to have various secondments and projects over the years, including 12 months working in Rome, all of which have been an asset to my development and strength of character.
Following another maternity leave, I got another opportunity to take an Area Ops Manager role on a secondment basis. I really wanted to make a difference to the business, however my resilience was tested when I failed an assessment centre and an external applicant secured the role. I truly believe that when things happen they do so for a reason, and I was able to apply for another vacancy 12 months later. I have had many highlights throughout my career but the best one was when my Manager, Steven White, announced that I had got the role. My hard work and determination had finally paid off.
Biggest career challenge so far?
While I appreciated that a re-structure of the business was needed I still had a team to look after while also knowing I was potentially at risk – I needed resilience to prepare them and myself. This preparation and hard work ensured I smashed the assessment centre, and I was successful in securing the Regional Manager role; a role that is rewarding and I thoroughly enjoy.
Best piece of career advice?
Don’t give up. The door is wide open for people with the right attitude, drive and enthusiasm. Keep knocking loudly on it – the opportunities are there for you! Go looking for it – when making decisions have confidence in your ability, and show tenacity and resilience. Also don’t forget to have fun - this company is brilliant to work for! I continue even after all of these years to be proud of what we stand for and the direction we are heading. I love working with our customers, my colleagues, and my regional team. For me, they're what make the job great.