On International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating the achievement of women at Victoria Plum. We chatted with Georgina Calton, our Head of Home Delivery about her work behind the scenes, improving the delivery experience for all our customers, as well as the challenges of working in a traditionally male-dominated role.
Hi Georgina. Thanks for chatting with me. First off, what is your role and how long have you been with us here at Victoria Plum?
Hi. I’m Head of Home Delivery and I have been with the company since July 2021.
I was going to ask what your typical day looks like, but I’m guessing there’s no such thing?
You are right, I don’t have a typical day. The focus of my day can quickly shift, depending upon what happens with the hubs, drivers, weather, etc. However, my day always begins with making sure all drivers are in and all vehicles are out to complete the deliveries.
What does your role involve?
I manage and lead a large team of people in 4 different locations across the UK, ensuring that we maintain high standards in home delivery, whilst adhering to health and safety and vehicle compliance regulations.
My aim is to give our customers more choice and flexibility when it comes to receiving their bathroom, with an easy-to-use, well-organised delivery service that leads the way in the market. It should be a seamless journey from the first time you click on our website to the moment it arrives at your home. If I were to sum it up, I want to make it simple for our customers to buy any bathroom product online from us.
What improvements can customers now expect from the Victoria Plum home delivery service?
Over the past few years, we've made many improvements in efficiency, safety and customer experience. With all large orders, customers are now able to tailor their delivery to suit their needs. They can now choose a premium "room of choice" delivery (which is handy if they have bulky items) or a door drop if this isn't necessary. Time is precious, which is why we now offer AM, PM and lunchtime delivery slots, so customers don't have to wait in all day.
We've also improved communication. With our new Track & Trace technology, customers receive a text on the morning of their delivery with a link, where they can view the location of their delivery team on a map, complete with live updates of their expected time of arrival (ETA), keeping our customers constantly informed every mile of the journey.
But we don't want to stop there. We are implementing further improvements, including a customer excellence training programme for all our delivery teams. I'm incredibly proud of the work my team have achieved over the last 12 months—without them, none of this would be possible.
I’d also like to mention the incredible work carried out by my colleagues in the Distribution Centre, headed up by James Bevens (Distribution Centre Manager) and Glenn Pennington (Health and Safety Manager). They recently won an International Safety Award with Merit from the British Safety Council for 2 years running, demonstrating how seriously we take health and safety in the workplace.
Can you explain a little bit more about your professional background and what brought you here?
I kind of fell into logistics. I worked in finance and accounts to start with (very low level) and a job came up in planning which paid more money. I applied for it, got it and fell in love with planning and transport from there. I’ve worked 3PL (Third-party logistics), ran my own fleet and ran someone else’s while based at different locations.
I love the difference you can make, the constant changes and the thrill of achieving something when you are told it can’t be done. I enjoy the fast-paced environment and having to think on my feet, which is certainly something you have to do with 3PL backloading (utilising spare space on a vehicle and planning a journey for multiple stops to reduce the distance travelled, increasing productivity), zero empty miles (making sure your last drop is as close as possible to your end destination), choosing correct vehicle types, etc. I always like to push myself and see what I can achieve.
How do you find being a woman in a male-dominated field like logistics?
When I was planning the routes for other third-party hauliers, the help which the guys gave…there was never any kickback from them. One good thing about working in a man’s environment is that they like to tell you how things work. Even if you know, one thing I’ve learnt is to almost pretend you don’t know. They’ll tell you the tricks of the trade. Most of the knowledge I’ve gained is from men, because it’s a male-dominated industry.
There are a few female owners, but there are some girls who work in the industry because their dads or brothers worked in it. If a female gets into the logistics industry, it’s because someone has got them into it. The logistics and haulage industry is very close-knit, you come across the same people and people you’ve worked with in different companies.
What challenges do women in logistics face?
Warehousing and transport almost go hand in hand. Luckily, here at Victoria Plum, we have a large female population in the warehousing environment, which isn’t always the case elsewhere. There is a stigma about girls not getting their hands dirty, girls can’t lift as much as boys, they don’t want to, they’re not as flexible with their hours, they might have other factors, like children or husbands they need to look after at home. But I do think times are changing. There are lots of women out there who want careers, not jobs, but careers, and when they get into warehousing or the logistics side they actually really like it. It’s not your 9 to 5 hours, it’s a 24 hour operation, with different shifts. It’s also not Monday to Friday. In retail, long gone are the days when shops might be shut on a weekend. The wheels don’t stop turning.
What would you say to someone starting in a male-dominated role like logistics?
I think for anybody, it would be quite scary, but it’s worth getting past that bit of fear to get into the industry. There is a lot of technical jargon, which can be confusing at first. I mean, I don’t know every A road. Some people assume you need to know the whole UK road network inside out…you don’t! I wish more young girls and guys would get into it, as there’s an aging population within the industry. So, we do need to do something to attract people, as it’s not particularly glamorous, it’s not a 9 to 5 desk job, which can put people off coming in. But once you’re in, you can decide whether you like it or not. If you do like it, you’ll be in it for life and the community becomes your family.
There are current vacancies within my department and I would love for women, as well as men, to apply. Head to our Careers Page to find out more.
Thanks for your time Georgina. We look forward to seeing more updates on home delivery in the coming months.
International Women's Day takes place annually on 8th March, celebrating women’s achievements and raising awareness against gender bias. This year’s theme is #EmbraceEquity and you can find out more by heading to the International Women’s day website, or searching #EmbraceEquity on social media.
Find out what we're doing to eliminate gender bias in our colleagues' pay and remuneration.
If you've been inspired by Georgina’s story and would like to find out more about a career at Victoria Plum, check out our Careers Page. And, for more information about our fast and flexible delivery service, see our Delivery Page.