IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

  • 30 Jul 2012

A Day in the Life of Account Manager Jane Caren

Ellie: Today’s ‘Day in the Life of’ interview is with Jane Caren, who has had a number of different roles during her time at Retail Assist. How long have you worked for the company now Jane?

Jane: I started working for Retail Assist in Jan 2000 as a Help Desk Analyst, having previously worked for Sears Clothing as a contractor on the Adams account. It seemed only right knowing the software and hardware that I applied to work for Retail Assist after they won the Adams contract following a management buyout. I worked on the Help Desk for 11 years, reaching the dizzy heights of ‘Senior (think that’s because I’m now officially old) Services Controller (yes I have been called a control freak!)

It’s amazing how that desk has grown and it makes me proud to know that I assisted with that. I have so many lovely memories of those early days as we were such a small team and worked so closely, there are many tales I could tell. One time we scared each other, making ourselves believe that the old office in Bingham was haunted… I do still wonder who it was going through the filing cabinets on the top floor late that Saturday evening. Entertainment came with the town centre being filmed for Crossroads. Unlike today, weekends used to be quieter and sometimes we only answered a few calls.

Ellie: It’s lovely hearing such fond memories about your time on the Help Desk. What would a typical day at work be for you now in your role as Account Manager?

Jane: Every day is different, early in the month I am heavily involved in the creating of monthly reports for our clients. Now with the help of James Lowe (big thanks) I can adapt these reports to contain the client’s specific graphs. I also attend many service review meetings, which could be anywhere in the country depending on the client. Prior to these meetings there is quite a lot of preparation, i.e. creating the agenda, adding information into the reporting pack and ensuring the minutes are fully up to date.

If the meeting is hosted at one of Retail Assist’s offices I will book a meeting room and organise catering requirements. I then perform some further analysis to discuss at the meeting, highlighting any trends. I also ensure that the client’s SLAs are fully adhered to, which includes liaising with some 3rd party suppliers – it helps that I know the majority of these from my Help Desk days. After the meeting there is further admin work to complete, such as updating and distributing the minutes. There is always lots of email correspondence to deal with too. I also like to be aware of any major incidents, so I use RSD (Retail Service Desk) heavily, utilising this application for any meeting minute action points.

Ellie: What do you enjoy most about your current job at Retail Assist?

Jane: I like the people I work with; both the clients and all the internal teams. I really enjoy developing relationships with individual customers, getting to know them as a person, understanding their business and requirements, so I can ensure that we are delivering the best service. I have worked with our client Bidvest since the take-on just over 12 months ago and it makes me very proud to know that they are really pleased with the service. We all work together to resolve any issues and then put in place our ISO best practices to reduce any further risks. I must stress the “working together” part, as this helps immensely.

I do also enjoy the variety of the job, one day I can be off on the train to London or travelling to Heathrow, Nottingham, Banbury or Oldham. Just the once (and never to be repeated) I even packed a tent when I had to attend a meeting in Taunton. It was strange getting ready for a business meeting in the communal toilets and dressing to impress… I did get some strange looks from other campers!

I have also been lucky to be involved with another one of our clients over in Eire, the 03:30 wake up call to catch the plane is tiring, but it’s lovely to visit Dublin and the clients are such a happy, friendly bunch that it makes my job worthwhile. One of my other major clients has a previous colleague working for them, this really has helped in turning around their fragmented IT functionality. We’re still not quite there but are working together and the future plans look very favourable.

Ellie: That’s great, other than the early wake up calls, what aspects of your role do you find most challenging?

Jane: People’s expectations can be a little challenging; keep on smiling is my motto. Somebody once gave me some very good advice whilst working on the Help Desk, when I felt the ground was falling in – “there will always be major problems, it’s how you deal with them that will be remembered” that is so true and is the thought that keeps me focused when it hits the fan.

Ellie: Finally, what previous experiences helped prepare you for your role? I know you’ve mentioned your previous role at Sears…

Jane: Gosh, the ‘ole girl’ has had lots of life experiences which must help, I would also like to think that I am a people person; I always get someone’s life story on the train home and seem to be the one that lost people ask for directions.

I have lots of previous IT experience, in fact it was all I knew until deciding to have a complete change back in 1994 when Severn Trent Water asked for voluntary redundancy; I was one of the chosen ones and decided to set up a florist shop. Previously I’d worked at the Derby ‘dark site’. There was nothing much to do apart from run a few back-up jobs and the odd tape change, so I decided to try my hand at arranging the odd dried flower or two. I found out I was ok at it, people placed some orders and I even transformed the first aid room into a drying area (with the full agreement of the IT Director). In the end the dark site was closed and I relocated to Birmingham, but I had gained the floristry knowledge which would come in useful later on. The flower shop was bit of a culture shock to the office girl, I was up at 5am nearly every day to get to the market to ensure that only the freshest flowers were sold. The shop also had to be cold to ensure that the flowers lasted. I don’t know if it was the smell of the flowers but after 2 weeks of opening, I found I was with child. I suspect my little girl Lucy being with me in the shop was a good attraction as the business expanded and I had to take on further staff. It was a beautiful and creative time in my life but after 3 years I decided to sell up and focus on being a Mum for a while. To sum up, I think I have both the Retail and IT experience required to understand our clients and to perform my role as best I can.

Ellie: Thank you so much for taking part Jane. For more information about the clients that Jane works with on a day to day basis, please visit our website.

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