How part time determination creates permanent success

Hi, my name’s Ste, and one day in March six years ago, I decided to pack up my belongings and move from the familiar sights and smells of the Cheshire countryside to the urban life of Manchester. I applied to work as a Customer Service Representative, answering calls from NatWest customers and helping them with anything and everything they could ever need assistance with.

Working in a telephony based centre, you meet a lot of part time workers, whether they were students or new parents getting back into work. But with the environment being so fast paced, it was easy to fall into the mental trap that part time workers aren’t looking to push their career forward, there temporarily to fit work around their lifestyle.

I’ve been given the chance to speak to Alison King, an Incident Service Recovery Manager from Ulster Bank, who has broken through that mentality and shown that it’s possible to drive your career in the direction you want while still being able to find the work life balance that works for you.

The journey is all part of the fun

Alison has worked for Ulster Bank for nearly 12 years, starting as a part time Customer Service Representative after having her twin boys, but as her family has grown so has her career. Having progressed through her career, Alison steadily increased her experience and responsibilities and was one of the first people to achieve the role of a part time Team Leader where she supported around 50 members of staff.

Ste: So to set the scene, when you were a Team Leader, could you describe what it was your team did in a little more detail?

Alison: The team was made up of the leadership team for RBoS and NatWest telephony, but it was the first time we’d taken these calls in Belfast. We’d always worked with Ulster Bank in telephony, but this was a brand new type of call where we we’re helping customers with their everyday banking over the phone.

The environment was about serving customers, doing the right thing and getting it right first time. That’s what our model was completely built on.

Ste: You’ve worked for Ulster Bank for 12 years, how have you progressed in that time?

I started in the bank in 2005 when my boys were 18 months old, my priorities had changed and my focus was then on my children. I started working 10am – 2pm, four days a week, but as the boys got older and went into primary school, I looked at developing my career again, so I increased my hours a little and started working towards a deputy Team Manager role in 2007.

While there were part time employees already in this role, they had obtained them as full time positions and reduced their hours later – back then the position I wanted didn’t exist as a part time role. I went for the position anyway, and when I scored top in the interviews I was the very first deputy appointed on part time hours in our centre.

I continued my development by supporting our training teams and new starters, sharing my story with them and how I got to where I was. Closer to 2009 I increased my hours again as the boys moved up through school, and worked towards a Team Leader role. I actually went for a permanent role twice and didn’t get it. It was hard, but it was about picking yourself back up, taking the feedback and moving forward.

I was then asked to support our brand new Business Banking team where I later secured my Team Leader role. From then I’ve gone from strength to strength. I was there for about a year, winning team of the year, before being asked to support the introduction of the NatWest and RBS calls, and that’s what I was doing until I recently became an Incident Service Recovery Manager.

There’s no time like the present

Ste: It sounds like you’ve put a lot of hard work in to be where you are. So when you were a Team Leader, what did an average day for you look like?

Alison: My days we’re never the same. Yes I supported a team, but as they were a management team they had to support their own teams as well. Day to day I had my calendar ready, but it could change by the minute. My day normally involved supporting, coaching and developing team leaders and deputy team leaders, which is where I spent a lot of my time.

Ste: What did you find you most rewarding about your role?

Alison: It’s was the people - watching people develop and coming into their own. It wasn’t just the managers that developed; it’s was watching managers develop their people and getting a sense of “I was part of that”. They were able to be successful because they were really good at what they did, and they were good at what they did because of the support that their manager gave them. So it was definitely watching people and the department succeed.

Ste: Thank you so much for your time Alison. I would like to finish up the interview with this one last question. If you could go back and provide yourself with once piece of advice when you started part time, what would it be?

I had to put myself out there to get the opportunities. It’s about making sure you put yourself forward and stepping out of your own comfort zone to take on challenges you never thought you would do. It’s taking that challenge and having the support to run with it.

Get to know your tools really well, work alongside your colleagues and look for best practices. We have really good management tools at our disposal to use. Use them, and be open-minded. If you go in like that then you’ll succeed.

Part time, smart time

If there’s one thing to be taken from Alison’s words, it’s that being part time has never stopped her achieving what she has wanted from her career. Part time, full time or flexi time, there is every reason to reach for the position you want, and Alison’s story is the proof that success can be had for part time workers if you mix it with a little determination.

Vacancies at Ulster Bank

If you can see yourself in any part of Alison’s story, why not have a look at Ulster Bank vacancies, and see what we have to help you drive your career forward.