I joined WHSmith travel in May 2009, my background was in catering which I was made redundant from and as my mum at the time was working for WHSmith she encouraged me to apply. I was looking for flexible hours due to being a parent and WHSmith offered me a 16 hour contract as a weekend Supervisor into Kings Mill Hospital. This soon increased to a 24 hour contract as I was enjoying what I was doing and could take on more shifts. We went through some tough times and staff costs were being cut and redundancies were happening, however I secured my role and actually got the opportunity to step up temporarily to cover sickness. In recognition of this I was promoted to Team Leader of the store and deputised as Store Manager to cover any sickness etc. A short while after this and due to the current SM retiring, I was given the opportunity to become Store Manager.
Within my first year as Store Manager our store was awarded ‘Regional Store of the Year’, this is something that made me so proud, not just of my achievement but also the whole teams and the fact that senior management recognised us. We then secured a new regional manager who saw potential in me as an individual and encouraged my development, which without that I wouldn’t have pushed myself.
I was asked to support East Midlands Airport as they had no manager for a short period of time. This was a complete eye opener as it was so different to my hospital store, for a start it had multiple stores and also I had to build and maintain a strong working relationship with the landlord. I improved standards within the store and couldn’t believe the profile of our airport stores, so this taught me a lot, we used to get mystery shoppers from the landlord!
After successfully supporting East Midlands I was asked to support with Lincoln County Hospital alongside my store to help with some improvement areas and I then also supported Derby Rail, again to support with improvement areas and help build the landlord relationships.
Working in the different formats in Travel has really helped my development as a Store Manager. It’s really important to me to ensure I have a happy team and that they feel appreciated. Working in hospitals requires such empathy as your customers are far different to those you experience in an airport!
My biggest achievement was gaining the ‘store of the year’ award and we were given a voucher which we all went out for a nice meal with as a team!
Sarah Draycott – Store Manager