To celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day, we spoke to our Head of Customer Experience, Sam Sturges, and Head of Finance, Sam Currell, to get an insight into what it’s like being a woman working in the logistics industry.
They discuss their roles, their proudest moment and top tips for anyone starting out their career.
How long have you worked at CitySprint?
SS: I celebrated my 5th anniversary at CitySprint in January.
SC: I started my journey with CitySprint in October 2016, as a contractor for a 12 months maternity cover and was asked to join the team after my contract came to end.
What does your role consist of?
SS: My role has changed over the 5 years. I joined as a Client Relationship Manager, managing a team of account managers in London and the South. I then moved over to Transworld to manage the account managers there and took on the customer service team as well.
I now look after all of the contact centre teams, consisting of the Warwick and London contact centres, Transworld customer service, Bristol strategic support team and Sales Support. As part of that it’s my job to make sure that we put the customer at the heart of everything we do and that the customer experience and customer journey are the best they can be; whether that is making sure that a client’s booking call is handled the same way each time they call or that we are resolving customer issues and complaints in a timely and satisfactory manner. We spent a lot of time last year defining and documenting what each of those processes look like so that everyone in the department knows what expectations are.
SC: As Head of Finance I manage the day to day financial administration of Accounts Payable, Courier Pay, Banking and Financial Accounting, preparing financial accounting externally/statutory reporting requirements of the Group. I find myself interacting with all levels in the business to ensure things run in a smooth and orderly manner.
I am always looking at driving forward improvements in terms of processes, controls, reporting and systems, so I closely work with the rest of the organization on various improvement projects.
Did you always know what you wanted to do in your career? How did you get into what you’re doing now?
SS: One of my first weekend jobs while at school was as a telephonist for a cab office in my hometown, so I guess you could say that was the start of my career in logistics.
When I was doing my A Levels, I wanted to be a forensic psychologist, and the plan was to study Criminal Justice with Psychology at university. However, life got in the way and I had to change my plans, ending up as an Estate Agent (don’t judge me), and from there moved into a sales role with an overnight carrier. Since then I’ve worked for three overnight and international carriers in account management and sales management roles before joining CitySprint in 2016.
SC: When I was younger, I was fascinated with anatomy and wanted to become a coroner, my logic being, that if I made a mistake it would not have any life-threatening consequences. Needless to say, life had other plans for me (you should see how I cut bread) and I fell into finance, starting in credit control for an international company looking for German speakers. I really enjoyed working in finance and took any opportunity that presented itself to learn as much as I could about all areas of finance.
When I became Group Financial Controller for a small tech company, my CFO encouraged me to start studying (in my mid-thirties) for my qualification, and 3 years later I qualified as an accountant. Joining CitySprint has allowed me to gain great experience, add a variety of skills and progress my career further.
What is the proudest moment of your career?
SS: As it turned out I didn’t go to university, and not having any formal qualifications is one of the few regrets that I have in life. I completed a Level 3 Diploma in Leadership and Management as part of a development scheme that CitySprint ran in 2017/ 2018. Whilst it’s not a degree-level qualification it’s a step closer than I was before, so I’m proud that I’ve successfully continued my education in my 30s. I’m currently studying for a Level 5 Diploma in Operational Management which is also part of the CitySprint apprenticeship scheme.
From a management perspective nothing makes me prouder than seeing my teams (and their teams) develop, progress and gain recognition for their hard work. In my time at CitySprint I’ve seen team members win Account Manager of the Year, win Institute of Couriers awards, gain promotions and there have recently been three winners of CitySprint Heroes awards from within my direct reports.
SC: Qualifying was a very proud moment for me; it was a huge achievement and paved the way for my career in Finance. There have been many proud moments within my career but the thing that makes me most proud is knowing that I have taken all opportunities presented no matter how far they have taken me out of my comfort zone.
Now, I am most proud of my team who together during the challenging times at CitySprint supported each other and took on anything that was thrown their way and continue to go the extra mile.
If you could change one thing about the logistics industry, what would it be?
SS: It’s a source of immense frustration to me that not much value is placed on the final mile delivery element of supply chains. The demand for final mile delivery services has increased at a phenomenal rate in the last 15 years, but there is still continued pressure on carriers and couriers to drive their prices down. Customers deserve value for money and a great service at a fair price, however if the demand had increased at the same rate for any other commodity in the market, the prices would have adjusted accordingly too.
SC: Working in finance, I am not always the first to know, nor the main decision maker on industry related changes, however sustainability and caring for the planet is a concern of mine. The logistics industry is a huge part of our everyday lives, whether it’s stocking up shelves in a super market, or getting lifesaving blood transported to hospitals within the hour – it’s important to always be mindful of the effect we are having on the environment while we are operating. I am proud to say CitySprint has taken a number of measures to ensure sustainable operations, but it’s time for other brands to follow suit and evaluate their effect on the planet.
What would be your top tip for anyone starting out in their career?
SS: Treat where you are and what you are doing now as a stepping stone to where you want to be. Know the value of transferrable skills, learn what you can from your current role and use that learning to help you progress. Embrace feedback and use that to guide your personal development. Even the feedback that is uncomfortable to hear - don’t take it personally, own it and grow from it.
SC: I would say go for it, seize every opportunity. Don’t be afraid to push yourself to your limits, but always remember to remain positive and honest. Do not let the fear of failing hold you back, falling at hurdles is all part of becoming successful; it’s how you get back up that counts. Lastly, you don’t need to be agreeable! Stand up and speak up if you don’t agree with something, disagreement and discussion is an important part of teamwork.