On International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating the achievement of women at VictoriaPlum.com. We chatted with Lisa Tomlinson, 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 Lisa, what is your role at VictoriaPlum.com?
Hi. I'm Head of Home Delivery.
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 VictoriaPlum.com home delivery service?
Over the past 12 months, 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. This year, we have further improvements planned, 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, 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 have a management background within manufacturing and logistics. Before joining VictoriaPlum.com, I've worked in a variety of roles within the manufacturing industry over the last 15 years, including operations, factory and warehouse management, supplying retail and trade.
I completed a Business Studies honours degree in 2013 whilst working full time and also being a single parent which was a challenge! I am trained in Health and Safety up to NEBOSH level and have recently completed my transport manager international CPC.
My role at VictoriaPlum.com began in 2015 and I've loved every minute of it; the culture and drive for continuous improvement is fantastic and every employee on every level is empowered to help to drive changes to improve the customer experience. I feel very lucky to have been given this opportunity—it's the company I have enjoyed working for the most in my career to date.
What skills are important to have in your role?
My role can be very pressurised and challenging, so it's important that I am able to handle pressure and workload effectively. Time management and organisational skills are key. I also need to be able to engage and lead my team effectively so that we are all working towards the same goals. Creative thinking is also a key skill in my role, as we often need to "think outside the box" (buzz word alert!) in order to problem solve or make improvements.
How have you found being a woman, working in your role, in a male-dominated environment?
I have always worked in a male-dominated environment previously to VictoriaPlum.com, so this is the norm for me and I don’t see it in a negative way—in fact, I actually see it as a positive. I think I can give a different perspective and a well-rounded view. I also hope that, by working in a senior role, and particularly within logistics, this may inspire more women to think about it as a career option.
What challenges do you think a woman in a logistics role would face?
Within logistics and particularly a transport role, it's largely assumed that managers will be male. I've often met with suppliers and seen the surprised "oh you’re a female" look! Not that it is ever mentioned. This sometimes makes you feel that you have to overachieve to prove yourself more.
However, I think there are also advantages. Within the logistics industry, many companies are now actively seeking to recruit females, which is a very positive step.
Getting the work/life balance right isn't always easy. Logistics isn't a 9–5 job and, sometimes, you can even be called upon in the middle of the night!
Do you feel enough is being done to promote women in the workplace?
I think a lot is being done and International Women’s Day really highlights this, but more can always be done and we need to ensure that there are more women in the boardroom. At executive level, in general, the percentage of females is often low. It’s so important that we get this balance right, there are many studies that suggest having a healthy balance of women and men on an executive board can lead to higher performance levels of a business. Also, women need to be able to look up to other women.
What advice would you give someone looking to start a career in logistics?
Logistics is a great career to aim for, as it is challenging but very rewarding. Experience and qualifications are both important and you need to be prepared to work your way up in a business and prove yourself. If you work hard and shine you'll be rewarded. Having a mentor or someone to look up to within an organisation also helps a great deal.
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.
Would that advice be any different to a woman?
No, my advice would be exactly the same for a woman.
Thanks for your time Lisa. 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 “a balanced world is a better world” and you can find out more by heading to the International Women’s day website, or searching #BalanceforBetter on social media.
At VictoriaPlum.com, we’re proud to be an equal opportunities employer. Find out what we're doing to eliminate gender bias in our colleagues' pay and remuneration.
If you've been inspired by Lisa's story and would like to find out more about a career at VictoriaPlum.com, check out our Careers Page. And, for more information about our fast and flexible delivery service, see our Delivery Page.