29 Aug 2023
Congratulations to Kate Clark, Buckingham Warehouse and Logistics Manager, who recently completed a Level 5 Diploma in Supply Chain and Operations Management. As well as this achievement, Kate has also just entered her 20th year with the business!
We spent time getting to know more about Kate’s career, learning and development journey at Puratos.
Congratulations on entering your 20th year at Puratos, Kate! Can you remember your first day and what Puratos was like? Did you think you would still be here in 20 years time?
Yes, I remember it like it was yesterday! Everyone was nice and welcoming and I knew I would stay here for some time as I just fitted in, it was like I’d always been in the business (although I was very young then and didn’t think I’d still be here nearly 20 years later!)
Back then the business was a lot smaller, so getting to know everyone’s name and their job role was easier, and I quickly settled in, however understanding the products and their uses and the pronunciation of the descriptions was a lot trickier!
What changes have you seen in the business and/or the industry over the years?
The addition of our Batch Control system that was introduced in 2005 and something that we pride ourselves on to this day. I was part of the implementation team at Buckingham. I was invited over to our HQ in Belgium to learn the process and then helped to train it out to my colleagues on my return to the UK. In 2014 we introduced SAP to the UK business which was a massive project. I remember we all worked long hours over the weekend to implement the new system ready for go live on the Monday morning, and the 2 weeks that followed were really challenging for everyone, but we all supported each other and made it a successful implementation.
Due to business growth, we now have 5 warehouses in total, and occupy 4 external warehouses plus we work with a 3PL provider to offer more service and supply to our customers than we originally could offer them as an in-house team. It is always a pleasure to learn about new investment that Puratos is making in order to ensure continuity and growth of the business.
Can you share some highs and lows in your Puratos journey so far?
Brexit was a challenge that brought both highs and lows, but it has been an interesting learning journey. I honestly never thought I would find customs and imports & exports interesting although I can honestly say I do! There is so much to learn and so many different requirements and processes. Though it seemed daunting at the beginning, I was fortunate to attend a variety of courses leading up to Brexit to gain a better understanding of the processes and requirements necessary, and these courses were funded by both a government scheme and Puratos.
One of my favourite experiences at Puratos was when a group of 7 of us cycled from Buckingham to Brussels for the charity ‘MacIntyre’ which was roughly 100 miles per day over 3 days. I have such fond memories of that event, it was fantastic and it really was a once in a lifetime type of experience.
One of my favourite experiences at Puratos was when a group of 7 of us cycled from Buckingham to Brussels for the charity 'MacIntyre'
What advice would you give to new starters at Puratos who want to build a long term career with the company?
Take the time to get to know your colleagues; it’s important to appreciate and respect everyone’s knowledge & experience. Supporting and helping each other is also key at Puratos, one of our values is Collaboration and working in a successful team makes work so much more rewarding and enjoyable.
Finally I would encourage people to get involved in different projects, even if they are not relevant to your department, as it will bring real value to your role, better your understanding, and increase your visibility across the business.
Congratulations on gaining your Supply Chain and Operations Management diploma – what made you enrol on to this course?
Whilst I had knowledge of Supply Chain & Operations, I really wanted to enhance my skills and challenge myself to get a formal qualification to match. Due to family commitments I didn’t enrol immediately but with support from the business, and in particular my line manager, I decided it was the right time to get started.
As an adult learner, it can be overwhelming at first and I wasn’t sure how to get going with my first assignment, however after a chat with one of the assessors everything clicked and I was delighted when I got a pass straight away on my very first assignment! The difference with being an adult learner is that you can use real life examples from your knowledge & experience which really helps when you do the assessed work.
How did you balance work and home commitments alongside studying?
Puratos funded the course and were flexible and supportive around my working hours and offering me study time too. My manager offered support and advice and checked in with me regularly on my progress which I really appreciated.
I started my course at the end of 2019, which meant that when Covid struck I had to navigate working from home, and home schooling my children, and studying! The days were long and stressful and as a consequence this meant I did have to extend my studies for longer than originally anticipated. In total it took me 3 years to complete the course.
What advice would you give to colleagues who are considering signing up to a long-term qualification?
Do it! If not for the knowledge and better prospects, then do it for your personal confidence. It’s so rewarding when you pass each module and complete an assignment which you have worked hard on, although consider first if you feel you can commit to the work necessary, as courses like this take a lot of dedication. A tip that I can share is to stay late at the office when you can to do course work as there are likely to be less distractions than at home in the evenings, plus you are physically in the working environment which your modules are based on, so it will help you to focus.
Do you have any new personal development goals that you can share with us?
Doing this course has inspired me to further challenge myself, and I think I would like to learn a language next, probably Spanish as I did this at school but really struggle speaking it nowadays!
Longer term I would like to explore other opportunities within Puratos and I am excited to see how my role and my place in the business develops.