Staff Interviews – Nicola Palmer
Welcome to the tenth of our staff interviews! Today we’re talking to Nicola Palmer, our Office Manager and longest serving staff member. Nicola’s been working at Vital for over six years and has seen a lot of change in that time. Keep reading to find out what her first interview was like, how her role has evolved and what she likes doing in her spare time.
Right Nicola! The first question I always ask is – how are you?
I’m very well thank you.
That’s good! So tell me, when did you start working at Vital?
It was on the 14th of February 2011. I only remembered cos it was Valentine’s day! Matt (Managing Director) never gets me any flowers for my anniversary though.
He should do! And what were you doing before you got here?
I was working in retail before. I worked for Co-Op for eleven years, doing admin work.
Eleven years! That’s a long time. What made you want to leave then?
Well, I left to have my youngest daughter Scarlett for a little while. When I got back the entire management structure and the way we did things had changed, and I realised it wasn’t for me anymore.
I see. How was it that you landed this job then?
I’d been friends with Matt’s wife Jo since we were about three years old. We went to school together but lost contact for a little while. We got back in touch years later when I went to a school reunion. I mentioned to Jo I was looking for a job, and she told me that her husband’s got a company and that he’s looking to employ someone full time! Scarlett was only little then, so I couldn’t really do full time.
She got back in touch with me a few months later saying he was looking for a couple of part time staff, so I came in, had my store room interview and started a week later! It was all a twist of fate honestly. I wasn’t even gonna go to the school reunion but Jo said “Oh please, come with me”. It was meant to be!
How did your interview with Matt go then?
Well I liked Matt as soon as I started talking to him. He made me feel really comfortable and like this would be an exciting place to work. He assured me that this wasn’t going to be the same role forever and that I’d have the opportunity to grow with the business.
You mentioned you started in 2011, making you the longest serving staff member we have! What did the business look like six years ago compared to now then?
Completely different! When I went for my interview with Matt we sat in a little store room with a coffee on a cardboard box! There were only five of us here then. Looking back now it was quite a pokey little office! We moved from that office to a bigger one just across the corridor and it felt like we had loads of space. But eventually the staff grew larger and larger, and we moved into this office that we’re in now.
And now we’re 22 strong and growing! How has your job changed since you came here then?
It’s changed dramatically! When I first started we hadn’t yet moved into the legalisation side of things, so we were only doing certificates. So at the time it was an admin role plus researching and ordering certificates for our customers online. There was myself and a girl called Debi and we job shared, so I did the mornings and she did the afternoons. It was quite a basic admin role at the time, but it grew a lot from there obviously.
I’m the Office Manager now, so my role these days is just kind of keeping everything together really, overlooking all aspects of customer service, making sure all orders have been fulfilled, making sure both staff and customers are happy. I dip in and out of enquiries and complaints, I take phone calls for legalisation orders when required. A bit of everything really.
You’ve got a lot on your plate then! What are some of the challenges you face in your role?
It can be really frustrating at times when we’ve had hold ups at the embassy or at the FCO, which leads to orders being delayed when it isn’t our fault. The embassies are constantly changing the rules for legalisation and moving the goalposts. Sometimes that leads to orders not being fulfilled on time, which we obviously have to take the flak for!
I understand that. Have you set yourself any goals here for the short or long term then?
I just like to come into work everyday and do the best I can. I’m really passionate about great customer service, and I like to go home at the end of each day knowing that if there has been any problems, they’ve been dealt with, that we’ve fulfilled every order, and that every customer that we’ve served has had a fantastic experience with us.
That’s a great way to look at things! Let’s pull away from work a little bit then. What do you like to do in your downtime?
It sounds really boring but I just like spending time with my three children and my partner. As you know I like to eat out a lot! That’s my hobby! Yeah, just boring middle aged woman things – shopping, eating, drinking. That kind of thing.
It’s not boring if you enjoy it! Final question – do you have a favourite quote?
I can resist everything except temptation – Oscar Wilde.
Fantastic! That’s it. Thanks for your time Nicola!