Get to know the newest member of the team, Leah!
Updated: May 3
Hi, would you like to introduce yourself? Tell us about the girl behind the photo.
Hello my names Leah. I've been working for VANHEROES for coming up to two months now having only recently moved to Swindon, which is where we are based! I moved here from Sheffield, where I had just finished studying a joint honours business and economics undergrad. In light of Covid-19, and a lot more time on my hands, i have recently found out that i quite enjoy running, something i never thought id say. Admittedly I'm not very good, but I am training hard to get my 5K time down to something I would be proud enough to share with you... so if you have any running tips please do let me know!
Awesome, it’s great to have you onboard, please do keep us updated on that 5K time. So, how did you first hear about VANHEROES?
I first heard about VANHEROES when I met with Shane the CEO, he told me about a start-up he and his co-workers had created and as we got talking I could sense Shane’s passion and love for the company which was so inspiring to see. I told him if there was any way I could get involved I would be all ears…. and here we are today!
That’s awesome Leah, so how did you get involved with VANHEROES?
Both Shane and I have our day jobs at Nationwide Building Society. I have been at Nationwide for just over 8 months now, having joined their graduate trainee programme in September. Nationwide are currently on a mission to transition its’s workforce into a new way of working and encouraging us to adopt an agile mindset, I am currently learning about scrum mastery and product ownership, language that wasn’t even in my vocabulary 6 months ago! When Shane told me VANHEROES was formed inline with agile values and principles it sounded like the perfect opportunity to increase my understanding of agile methodologies whilst gaining valuable experience that I could also bring over to Nationwide.
What a great thing to be doing, I would have loved to have had this opportunity when I was just starting out in my career.
Exactly, it has massively opened my eyes! I remember the first time I met the team we discussed whether or not we should incorporate apple pay into our payment process. We discussed the pro’s and con’s, considered our roadmap and long term version, I was able to ask questions about how exactly that would work, and sat with the backend designer to see what the app looks like ‘behind the scenes’ and how we would even go about incorporating this feature. It felt so innovative and the speed in which we came to a decision was remarkable, I never thought I would be involved in such conversations especially so early on in my career! I would say my confidence has grown two-fold since working at VANHEROES, we are a small team of 5 and it is a very safe space to discuss ideas and voice thoughts and opinions and I really enjoy and look forward to our weekly meet ups!
And what is it that you do?
In my day job I am currently learning the trade of a business analyst, this involves identifying pinch points within processes and working with stakeholders to understand how we could improve that process or indeed we may need to design a brand new solution in order to eliminate that problem. At VANHEROES, I go by the title Customer Experience Manager which means I work closely with Hamlyn, our Chief Marketing Officer. We are currently looking at how, post Covid-19, we are going to ensure both our web-page and marketing campaigns are ready for our next big launch… definitely something to look out for! I have learnt so much already and I am continuously looking at how I can bring those learnings back into Nationwide, from helping it on its journey to adopting an agile mindset, to thinking and acting like a start-up.
How do you juggle your time? You must be very busy.
I think the key to balancing your time is setting yourself time-boxes, so I will always make sure that when I am finished for the day, I turn my laptop off and I (try) not to think about the day job in the evenings. I devote a few nights a week to VANHEROES but in true agile form, its outcomes not hours that matter the most, so in the evenings that I am with the VANHEROES team I learn and contribute as much as I can, but in the evenings when I am free I still find time to binge watch the latest Netflix box set, or catch up with friends! You need to make sure you still have me-time as this will help make you feel refreshed and raring to go. Also whilst we're on the topic never underestimate the power of a week off, don't be afraid to take those holiday days - you've earned them!
What is the number one thing you have learnt from VANHEROES?
Larger companies can be very hierarchical even if they don’t mean to be. At a start-up everybody is equal, the more voices and opinions on offer the better, in fact the differing of viewpoints is very much welcomed and it feels an incredibly safe environment to voice these and discuss them. My biggest learning to date is that a culture where all opinions are welcomed this is when the light bulb moments occur! If I could bring only one thing back to Nationwide it would be to empower others to have the confidence to speak up, to challenge where appropriate and to be confident in their thoughts and ideas!
What are you thoughts on others following your path and learning in other environments outside of their day jobs? The world of a start up in comparison to a corporate world must be very different.
If you a faced with an opportunity to try something new, no matter how scary it may seem, i truly believe you should take it, I mean, I knew nothing about vans when I started, I had never even heard of a Luton van! I encourage you to reach out for opportunities, don't be afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone, even if you're not exactly sure what is it you could bring to a team, that will come in time. Just having the right attitude and mindset and desire to learn and grow will hold you in good stead.
Having exposure to both the corporate and start up world so early on in im career, to be honest at any point in your career, is invaluable, not only is it attractive to a future employer but it will expose you to completely different ways of thinking whilst growing your skill set and in turn your network.
If people want to connect and learn more about your journey, whats the best way?
LinkedIn! Here's the link to my profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/leah-earp-7a6406a3/ Feel free to connect with me and message me if you have any questions, id be more than happy to chat with you!