Welcome back to our How We Got Our Jobs series. This month our two-person finance dream team, Vicki and Nikki, discuss starting out, climbing the career ladder, balancing their jobs with becoming a parent, and how flexible working hours benefit family life.
Vicki, Head of Finance
“When I was at school I was quite into Drama. I did A-level Drama, Maths, French, Sociology and Leisure & Tourism. I had to quit my A-levels and get a job at an advertising company in London. I started off as a PA/Secretary. My dream at school, all I wanted was to have a briefcase, wear a suit and get the train up to London – and I did that! Their technical lady went on maternity leave and because I made such an impact in my job, they asked me to cover her. She didn’t come back, so they asked me to take on her job full-time. I got to drive around in a company car. It was great. I got my first mortgage at the age of 20.
“Then I switched careers completely. I went from being a PA to a coordinator in purchasing, and then after two years I became purchasing manager. The company I worked for set up a sister company – and they asked me to go across and run it as Operations Manager.
“A few years in I got pregnant with my first child, then while I was on maternity leave I got pregnant with my second child (good planning!). During that time, the sister company I worked for folded and a few of us were offered jobs at the other company. But I took redundancy. I had two children under the age of 16 months and it was quite a full-on job I was doing at the time, plus commuting to London and back.
“After a few months I started going stir-crazy with two babies at home, as I’ve always worked. I just felt like I wasn’t me anymore. I thought, I need to do something, so I decided to do some training. I thought about the parts of my old job that I liked, that I could do flexibly around the kids. If you do operations, you do everything, so I did all the accounts. I looked into what courses I could do and did an accounting qualification over two years.
“While I was doing the second part of it, I was looking for part-time jobs to help with my training and Reddico popped up on Gumtree. They were in Kings Hill and at that time I lived in Kings Hill – it was literally a stone’s throw from the pre-school. It was only four hours a week and I could do my training at the same time, so I went for an interview and got the job.
“I passed all my qualifications and with that I’ve been able to grow with Reddico. I’m now Head of Finance.
“It’s been so rewarding to be part of that growth. When I think back, there were three of us in a tiny little office and we shared a desk, me, Nick [Redding, Director] and Luke [Redding, Director]. Look at us now.
“The work/life balance policies have made a massive difference. I can now be full-time because I can choose the hours, so it’s win-win. I couldn’t be full-time, 9-5:30 in the office. I will happily do my hours, but I do them when it suits me. I think Reddico gets more from me with me doing that. It’s allowed me to be a mum – hopefully a good mum! – and be good at my job. And I’m very lucky to have Nikki on my team now, we work so well together and I’m excited about our future plans.”
Nikki, Finance Lead
“I always wanted to be a solicitor. I did all the usual subjects, history, maths, music, the sciences, English, then when I left school I went to college and did a legal secretarial course. I didn’t want to do a degree, I wanted to get working, really.
“When I was at college I went to the Daily Telegraph and worked in the legal department there for a few weeks, that was good fun. But I wasn’t interested in corporate, I was interested in family law and being in a court.
“After I left college I worked at Reeves & Co in Maidstone as a legal secretary to a family law solicitor. She used to go to court quite often – things can change quite quickly in family law, there were lots of custody battles, issues with children – so I went to court with her a few times.
“I was there for a couple of years and then I went to another solicitors, that was a different type of law. Then I had a baby and moved away, so I had to leave that job anyway, and I found it really hard to get a part-time legal secretary job.
“I got a secretarial job and did that for a while, then I joined an investment company in the accounts department, so it was a gradual transition. I worked there for ten years – I got lots of qualifications there on investments, unit trusts, ISAs and I’d go up to London for training courses so I really enjoyed that.
“Then I was made redundant. After that, I didn’t really want to join another large, corporate company. I wanted something smaller, more hands-on, more make-a-difference, so I worked in the office of a local charity: Scott’s Project in Tonbridge, which helps adults with learning disabilities. I was the accounts department, the secretary – the whole office, really!
“When I saw this job, it was coming along to meet Vicki that made me want to join, knowing we could make a good team, doing accounts from start to finish. I learnt the whole process.
“The flexibility is a life-changer – being able to have both and not feel guilty for choosing one or the other. It’s hard to balance the two and I wouldn’t be able to work full-time without it.”
Look out for part seven, featuring our project manager, next month.