Happy International Women’s Day, this year’s #IWD2021 theme is #ChooseToChallenge
Here at DDC OS we decided to interview our BPO Operations Manager, Rachel Sear. We felt that her experience and success throughout her career should be shared and celebrated as part of the #ChooseToChallenge campaign, where we are encouraged to celebrate women’s achievements and seek equality in the workplace.
We interviewed Rachel to find out about her role at DDC OS, how she got into the industry and why she feels awareness days like International Women’s Day are important.
Tell us about your career so far…
“Being in Operations Management was completely unplanned, I had always wanted to be a solicitor after studying French Law at University”. After graduating Rachel joined DDC OS on a temporary contract with the plan to leave after the contract ended to do her master’s degree. However, after a few months working in the DDC OS Business Processing Services department she “fell in love with it and I guess the company saw my potential”. Rachel’s passion for operations grew, and since then she has risen through the ranks at DDC OS to become, what is now, our longest serving female Operations Manager.
In your current role you manage a large team, tell us how you think having a diverse workforce has benefitted your team?
“I think the beauty of having a diverse workforce is that everyone is unique and has a different viewpoint and skillset, whether diversity is due to gender, race, or disability, having people from different backgrounds sparks discussion, creativity and innovation. It means as a team we incorporate ideas from everyone. Because our employees connect with a variety of people, it’s improved everyone’s’ understanding and tolerance of other cultures. This leads to an open-minded workforce which I feel contributes to a greater working world.”
When you started your career in this industry, did you imagine ever having a senior role?
“I never thought I would have the role I do today within DDC OS, however that was due to me not realising my capabilities and not because I felt my gender was a disadvantage. Fortunately, when I joined DDC OS there were female Operations Managers in both the contact centre and BPO so seeing them in their roles made me feel that working in a senior position within the business was achievable, as there were clear examples for me to follow. I realise, especially in my current position that it is so important to give the younger generation who are just starting their careers people to look up to, that they can see themselves in, whether that be because of their gender, race or background.”
Who inspires you in your career and why?
“I have been inspired by so many people, at DDC OS I am surrounded by so many individuals that are so passionate, skilled, and amazing at what they do. However, I guess my biggest inspiration has come from my dad, he taught me the work ethic I have today and without that I would not be in my position, he taught me to push myself, be tenacious and always strive for bigger and better goals.”
What advice would you give to women who may feel that gender is a barrier in their career?
“There is a phrase from my favourite book as a child and it is ‘Your life is yours alone, rise up and live it’ I try to remember that every single day and live by it. There have been times in my life when I have walked into a room and I have been the only woman there, whether that be in my education or my career. At the time I didn’t really realise it or let it make me feel threatened, I was just myself and acted myself regardless of who I was surrounded by and focused on what I could bring to the table and what I could learn from everyone else to take me and my skills forward.”
“No matter who I am giving advice to, I would want to pass on; you must always focus on having confidence in yourself and what you are doing, rely on your own skills, always challenge where you need to and ultimately rely on your talent, as it will eventually shine through irrespective of what gender you are. I believe that with the right surroundings and the confidence in yourself you will flourish.”
What is a leadership lesson you have learned in your career?
“The main lesson that stuck with me is to always lead by example, ‘Get your hands dirty. I was once in a situation at a client’s site where we had to pack up thousands of files into boxes and then load those boxes into a van, but the lift was broken. My manager at the time was just sat on his laptop watching, he then got up as he said he would help and he just used a box to prop open the door open for me. At the time it made me lose a little bit of respect for him, as he didn’t help us and watched us struggle. So, that experience has always stuck with me. I guess it’s been easier for me because I have risen through the ranks at DDC OS, I have done the groundwork and I understand the roles, so I would never ask my team to do something that I wouldn’t want to do myself; Leading by example is crucial to having a good relationship with your team.”
Throughout your career have you had to question stereotypes to help forge an inclusive work environment?
“I don’t feel I have personally had to face any of these issues however as an Operations Manager, I want to ensure that others can say they have had the same experience as me and also don’t have to face any of these inequalities under my leadership.
It comes natural to me to challenge comments or issues in everyday life, I feel like that is a part of my personality. I have managed employees that identify as transgender, so in my role I am mindful to ensure that all team members are being inclusive and aren’t displaying any of their personal bias against each other. I want to always ensure that my team feel comfortable and happy to be themselves within the workplace as we all bring so much to each other’s lives when we allow each other to be ourselves. I have been fortunate within my DDC OS career that I have never had to #Choosetochallenge as the company is so diverse and inclusive which is evident when you look at our workforce.”
Why do you feel movements like International Women’s Day are important?
As previously mentioned, although I do not feel like being a woman myself has held me back, I feel that days like today are crucial to bringing awareness. Not all women across the world are as fortunate to be given equal opportunities.
It brings these issues to the forefront of people’s minds, reminding us to always be aware of them, so that we can all question the choices of those around us and ourselves. I hope to see women in leadership grow and hope that one day we welcome more women into this career path.”