Logistics Director's Advice for Year 10
Thursday, 29 April 2021
Old Girl Stella Pickford (Class of 1999) joined Year 10 girls on Zoom for the next in a series of World of Work talks from alumni. Stella is currently Director for Northern Europe Warehousing with Procter & Gamble: she is responsible for the multinational company’s warehouses in the UK, Ireland and the Nordic countries as well as distribution from manufacturing sites to warehouses to stores. In addition to this role, she is also a mental health first aider, corporate trainer, interviewer and leader of the Diversity and Inclusion Network.
Stella spoke fondly of her time at Bolton School, which started in Beech House and continued through to Sixth Form. She went on to follow her dream of studying veterinary medicine at the University of Bristol, but personal circumstances meant that she ultimately left that course to support her family and found herself at a crossroads. After much debate over what to do next, she remembered how much she had been inspired by Young Enterprise at school: she said she had enjoyed it and thought she was good at it, but after investing so much planning and work experience in becoming a vet she hadn’t wanted to change tack at short notice. However, given the opportunity to revisit her choices, she decided to ‘bite the bullet’ and applied to study Business Management at Manchester.
After graduating, she joined Proctor & Gamble as a Graduate Manager and has had various assignments since joining the company twelve years ago. She spoke briefly about why she chose Proctor & Gamble, mentioning the importance of working for a company with a strong purpose, values and principles. Particularly, she said she was interested in the company’s diversity and inclusion, sustainability and community impact work – though she also admitted that a competitive benefits package was an important factor too!
Stella offered plenty of advice to the girls in Year 10 at the start of their career journey. She advised them to look into their personality types as these profiles can help to give direction by highlighting how a person likes to work, where they get their energy from and what is important to them. She also talked about what is important to her: opportunities for continuous improvement, gaining mastery to do a job well and the agility to deal with changing circumstances; and breaking down barriers and enabling others.
She also shared the things she has learned along the way and encouraged pupils: ‘Go for things that are a bit of a stretch.’ She also recommended that they should do things to set themselves apart, such as volunteering and leading projects. She added that juggling many responsibilities, for her being a mum, wife, worker and manager, can be challenging but they should try to ‘be at peace with doing your best.’
In the question and answer session, Stella said that she has no regrets about changing her career path from what she initially dreamed of, as she’s found something she enjoys. She discussed the challenges of the pandemic, since her decisions on the protocols about social distancing, cleaning and so on are what keep the workforce safe. She said: ‘When you’re responsible for other people, that really matters. That’s an important responsibility.’
Finally, Stella was asked if she had faced any challenges as a woman in her career. She spoke positively about Proctor & Gamble’s dedication to diversity and said that the company is very conscious of giving people equal opportunities. She advised the girls: ‘Act like you’re meant to be there and believe that you’re meant to be there. The rest of it comes with that.’ She also said that women are now more expected in positions of power and the experience and skills they bring to the table are important. She said: ‘Really make sure you use those skills. We can focus on what our weaknesses are, but we should focus on what we bring to the party.’
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