Staff Interviews – Samantha White
Welcome to the thirteenth of our Vital Certificates Staff Interviews. Today we’re talking to Samantha White, our Service Development Manager responsible for finding partners to help legalise foreign documents. But it’s not what she started out doing! Read on to find out which role she actually applied for, what she does now, and what she enjoys doing outside of work.
Hi Sam! First question I’ll ask, as always, is how are you?
I’m alright today thanks Ash, how are you?
I’m good thank you! You’re looking very tanned. How was your holiday?
Oh it was lovely! Croatia’s definitely a place you need to go. It’s beautiful and large parts of it are totally unspoilt at the moment. Unless you go to the party spots that is!
I’ll look into it for my next holiday then! So, when did you start working at Vital Certificates?
It was November 2012? I think. No. 2013. November 2013.
Sounds like you’re not sure about that one! And what were you doing before you got here?
I’m sure now! I was at home with Oscar (first son). After I got pregnant I was made redundant so I didn’t have a job to go back to, and trying to find part time hours with a child is not easy! Before that I was working at a recruitment company in Wakefield that had been outsourced to do the recruitment for companies like Turning Point and Sainsbury’s and a few others. So we dealt with only applications for those set companies.
I see. And what was that job like? Did you enjoy it?
It was okay. It was a temporary thing after being made redundant previously! I was working and living in York, but then I met my husband Mark and ended up moving over here. I commuted for about two years but it was just too far. Then I got a job in Leeds with a training company but it just didn’t work. So I was made redundant there and then I got the job with the recruitment agency. But I was pregnant so I couldn’t stay on too long there anyway. So within a space of about a year I was made redundant twice! But hey, it happens.
How did you come into this job then?
The woman who was my boss at the training company in Leeds knows Matt (Managing Director) and Jo (Matt’s spouse) and she just happened to share the job opening on Facebook. I thought “this can’t be in Batley!” And I applied for it from there.
And what was the job you were brought in to do at the time?
It was customer service, a little bit like what Mel and Andy do at the moment. Andy and I came at the same time, and I applied for the afternoon role (1:30pm to 5:30pm) but I didn’t get it! Matt just rang me saying I’m really sorry but you haven’t got that job, but I would like you to come work for us. And I said okay, great, doing what? And he said he didn’t know yet! He said just pop in and see me and we’ll have a chat and work something out. And that’s what happened.
What did you talk about with Matt during your interview then?
It was just about the job role, whether I understood legalisation and that sort of thing. I had a minimal understanding of it because the company I worked for in York was a refractory engineering company, and we sent people abroad a lot, and we had to get their documents attested. So I had a slight understanding of it. So it was just outlining the job role and what was required really. Then I got Matt’s famous interview question about manhole covers being round!
You’re not the only one that question tripped up! What made you want to start working at Vital?
It was Matt really. I was quite up front with him and told him I have a young child, and that I am going to have childcare problems at time that might mean I have to leave early or might not be able to come in. That’s not really what you want to hear as an employer! You need someone that’s going to be reliable and consistent. But he was fine with that. He sat down and asked me what I could do, what hours would suit me so I could work around my husband and my child. It was just his general manner. He’s very much like the woman I worked for before at the training company. I almost see them as life coaches – they’re able to find positives out of every negative you bring up. That’s what made me feel like it was going to be a nice place to work.
That’s great! What was the business like when you first started working here?
Oh it was much smaller when I started. We were at the old office, and the business was mixed with Zen Audio, another one of Matt’s ventures. There was only maybe 6-8 people in the office at any given time, spread over two businesses. It was much, much smaller.
We’ve come a long way since then! What was it you were brought in to do at the time?
I was brought in to focus on things in Dubai. Matt had got somebody to write a book about relocating and he wanted me to check it over and make sure everything was okay. He wanted me to put things together about services we could offer if they’ve moved over, relocation services, find out about the laws, see what kind of demand there was about certain services, find houses and schools etc. But when I’d been here for three months I found out I was pregnant again! I collated as much of the information as I could while I was here, but I went on maternity leave at the end of June.
And when you came back you were doing something totally different!
Yes! Well before I left we’d just started to touch on legalising foreign documents. When we first started doing it, we did what we could through the High Commission in London, taking them there and then getting them notarised before presenting them at the relevant embassy. Some countries accept that, others don’t. So Matt realised what we needed to do was to find companies like ours in other countries to partner with to be able to offer the services that we couldn’t. So that’s when my job role changed to Service Development Manager, and I began managing overseas documents. I’d just come back from maternity leave, so having a new baby and working part time wasn’t exactly viable. So Matt said I could work from home and do the hours that suit me. And it works for both of us. Because sometimes I’ll need to contact a partner in a different time zone who might not work during normal UK office hours. So I might be up until midnight because I need to speak to anybody, but that flexibility allows me to do that.
That’s great then! What is it you do on a day to day basis in this new role?
It’s trying to find partners in different countries to help us legalise documents that were issued there. We do get a lot of different requests from different countries, and it’s trying to find someone who can fulfil the whole process for us, which is harder than it sounds! I usually go off of whatever enquiries we’re getting most of at that time, but I also try to look ahead to countries which we might require in the future.
I see. What are some of the challenges you face in this role then?
It can be frustrating at times trying to find the right partner to help our customers get their documents legalised. There is a big demand now that we advertise that we can legalise documents issued from other countries, and it is frustrating when you can’t find partners in some of these countries to help get it done!
Definitely! What do you enjoy most about working at Vital?
The environment. It’s relaxed. There’s no one particularly highly strung, everyone gets along. There’s just a good feeling about the place, and I think that’s why people stick around. It’s a nice place to work. And with Matt, you couldn’t ask for a better boss. He’s the kind of person who wouldn’t ask you to do anything he wouldn’t be prepared to do himself. He makes you feel like a name and not just a number.
I agree! Have you set yourself any goals in the short or long term then?
To try and find partners that will allow us to legalise documents from as many countries as possible. We have a target set of trying to add two new countries every month, which doesn’t sound a lot, but it does take time for these things to happen!
Let’s move away from work then. What do you like to do in your downtime?
Rugby! My life revolves around rugby. Oscar’s playing now and it’s full contact. My Sunday mornings are watching Oscar play at Batley Boys, and Sunday afternoon are watching Batley Bulldogs play! And going to the seaside. We love Filey and Whitby and Scarborough. Just spending time together as a family. I love going on holiday as well!
Sounds like me then! Finally, do you have a favourite quote?
Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight. – Benjamin Franklin
That’s that then. Thanks for your time Sam!