In an ever-changing business, one thing that always remains a focus here at Chess is our Culture. The people of Chess have always been at the heart of the business, because as our CEO, David Pollock, repeatedly states ‘Happy people, means happy customers’.
Kate Wood: Director of Culture
Years of Service: Seven
First Chess Job: Business Solutions Sales Executive
This year we celebrate Chess’ 25th Anniversary. What thoughts and emotions come to mind when you think about that?
I like that David tried loads of different things like Smartflush, Organic food, Gas and Electric and that things have failed, but because he kept changing and trying new stuff we have the Chess we see today, I am proud to part of it.
What has been your biggest achievement at Chess?
I’d never worked in an office or in sales before Chess, I was so scared. I kept my job at the airport lounge for the first month just in case. On my first day at Chess I saw a man called Matthew win sales person of the month and thought “That’s what I want to do” and I set my mind to it and secretly thought about it on every call. On my third month I won. Warren (Chess’ Sales Director) did the stand-up, and it sounds silly but when he handed me the bottle Cava I felt like I could achieve anything!
What have been your biggest challenges working at Chess?
If I am being completely honest, personally for me the most challenging times have been people’s attitude to my relationship with Stephen Dracup (MD). I am naturally a private person and it has been hurtful, I rose above it and now after five years I’m old news. Professionally I found the closure of the Sandy Office challenging – I had grown close to the people, I knew it was the right decision for Chess and them, but I found it really hard seeing them upset. It helped me to grow professionally, I learnt a lot and hopefully that has made me better equipped to support our people going forward.
What’s made you stay at Chess for so long?
I bet everyone says, “the people” – but that’s so true. I am lucky to work with passionate, interesting people at all sites who I enjoy working with and learn from every day. Also, the fact that no day is ever boring, my job is so exciting. I never dread coming to work, I feel there is still so much to achieve.
In what ways have you grown since starting at Chess?
Chess made me courageous. I am lucky that David kept on at me and he forced me into doing loads of stuff I didn’t want to do, like being a cultural architect (CA) and hosting the conference.
What is your favourite part about your job? What excites you the most?
As it says in the Blueprint- “As proud of our past success – as excited about our future”. I love acquisitions and induction; all the potential new people bring with them excites me. The fortnightly meetings with David, Stephen and Alan Cassidy about Engage are something different and being part of something so creative is so interesting, I am learning a lot from them.
On another note – if I am out anywhere and I hear “Right Here, Right Now” by Fat Boy Slim I immediately start feeling sick thinking I am about to go on stage at the conference, which is both exciting and scary in equal measure!
What is your best Chess memory to date?
Setting out to be the Sunday Times No 1 Best Company to Work For and we achieved it! I know that will always stay with me as something special to have been part of. I also have loads of day to day memories that mean a lot too. Adam Myers and I laugh a lot about us working in new business sales together, half-day Fridays with colleagues who are now friends (the A Team) and the first ever Digital Pub Club in Paisley was a great night and a new dawn for Chess.
Where do you expect to be in the next 25 years?
25 years ago, I was 16 years old, living in a flat on my own and surviving on £27 a week. I could never in a million years have imagined how happy I would grow up to be. I don’t have a clue what the next 25 years will bring but I’m just going to take what I have learnt at Chess and throw myself into it what comes my way.