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Unprecedented with Cat Moseley

Published 12th March 2021

At Unprecedented, we had the opportunity to talk to Cat Moseley, Chief People Officer at Motorpoint, who spoke to us about leadership and the impact the pandemic has had on her and Motorpoint 

A background into you and your business?

Motorpoint started in Derby in the late 90’s, but over recent years it has grown from a single site to a national business with 14 retail sites, a head office and an online business.  

I joined the company in 2017 but prior to this, I had done my whole HR career within hospitality. I started in recruitment focused roles with Punch/Spirit Pub Company and then moved into a more generalist role. Spirit was an amazing organisation for opening the door of opportunity and making you feel brave enough to give something a try.

In 2013 I took my first HR Director role, during which I was working for Tragus looking after the Bella Italia and Strada brands. By 2017 I had my daughter, which led me to begin searching for a role nearer home (London party days weren’t that conducive to night feeds and nappies!).

I started research on Motorpoint as part of the recruitment process and was instantly impressed with the journey they had taken and the culture that rippled through. They were humble disrupters with entrepreneurial leadership and thinking but in a plc setting – quite the combination! They needed a people leader who could help them grow further and build a HR team that would enhance the already impressive people foundations.

Define leadership and what being a leader means to you.

Being a Leader is so many things. The obvious definition is about inspiring people, and building fellowship is of course a key responsibility, but as a leader, I think that your responsibility is greater than that.

I think it is about human leadership. It’s about cultivating a culture of trust and honesty so that people know you make decisions whilst holding the moral compass in the right direction. They know your recognition is genuine and meaningful, and they know your feedback will help with their personal growth. You create trust between the business and the team working in it and create a true sense of purpose for people. People invest a lot of themselves when they come to work – trust is really important.

Who are your Leadership role models/inspirations 

I have been really lucky to work with some incredible leaders and have genuinely been inspired by them. I have taken something from all of them, which has helped define who I am. I am most inspired by people who really go for what they believe in and what makes them happy.

What are the “non negotiable” behaviours that you expect you and those around you to live by?

Honesty, even if a message is a hard one, if you ensure that you always deliver it with honesty and care, it’s never the wrong thing to do. People can grow from honesty, people can learn from honesty and people can feel safe in an environment where they know they will get honesty. I also have zero tolerance for entitlement and believe everybody should be kind and respectful.

It’s not difficult to treat people well but it makes such a difference when you do.

What impact has Covid-19 had on you?

At first, it was really hard, there were absolutely no rules or understanding about what was ahead of us and so many people coming to you for answers and reassurance, that deep down we didn’t really know the answer to either.

The change on a personal level was enormous too, I have a young daughter and helping her navigate the change and be accepting of the fact she was suddenly housebound with a mum and dad who were working instead of playing or relaxing with her was not easy.

I am very lucky in the sense that we are a business that puts employees first and we get that people have a life outside of work, we work when we can and we parent when we need to. Once I let myself do that it all became much easier. It took a while to get there though & I had to try a few different things to establish what routines and boundaries were the right ones for me and my family.

What impact has covid had on your business?

It’s been devastatingly hard but incredibly powerful and positive in equal measure. Of course, trade has been hit, we had to close our retail operations 3 times, but we have seen an increase in innovation, growth and have developed completely new ways to connect our product with our customers.

The most powerful thing I have seen though, is our culture take a leap forward. The feeling of unity and genuine care has blown me away. Covid forced us to be brave and just go for it.

We’ve always been a fast entrepreneurial business, but Covid was a catalyst for some further change, that probably wouldn’t have come up until much later. We have really missed the connectivity with the team though, we are a business that socialises – we are missing our celebrations!

Where were you and what were you doing when you first realised that Covid-19 was very serious?

I remember very clearly the Wednesday before the formal announcement. Myself and the CEO were in the office and we made the call to close our offices and move to a ‘work from home if you can’ approach.

We weren’t necessarily set up for this in terms of tech at this stage, but we knew we would find a way, and, above all, we just needed to get everyone home and safe, and reduce the number of people coming into contact with each other. As expected the IT team came up trumps and got everyone set up properly in no time.

Are there any people within your support network who made a big positive impact on you as a Business Leader during those early weeks/months?

Yes, I have two very close friends who are also HR Directors and having them to reach out to was so powerful. Our employment lawyer is also amazing and is practically an extension of the team. She was a real support and, as a fellow working mum, really reassured me in so many areas!

I have a lot of contacts in hospitality and what was happening in the sector was heartbreaking. I spoke to my old boss, who is the CEO of a restaurant chain, and his approach and resilience really inspired me.

My peers, my CEO and my direct reports were also breathtakingly supportive and aligned to the greater good. Showing great leadership isn’t always down to the boss, it is often the team who step up and show you what it really means.

What was your internal comms strategy at the start of lockdown? Has that changed?

It has changed massively! We just started to look at internal comms as a key project for 2020…well that got catapulted up the priority list I can tell you!

We now have a dedicated Internal Comms and Engagement Coordinator in the team, lots more tech support and a team of local leaders who truly get the impact of great communication.

What were the 3 biggest (or best) decisions you have made in 2020?

  • To commit to paying our team and topping up pay throughout lockdown

  • To innovate and invest in technology

  • To get a dog

What remain your 3 biggest challenges?

I think the unknown has to be the biggest challenge for any business, as well as being remote as I think there is power in some social contact

How have you/your business evolved from a digital/tech perspective?

In so many ways. Internal comms, eCommerce and our own technology department has grown hugely and will continue to do so.

How have you (your business) coped from a mental health/stress perspective?

We provided some online and virtual resources for people to offer virtual support in the areas of change, resilience, and mindfulness.

We have really focused on making sure that we had a culture that involves talking, asking if people are ok and listening. I think our team feels as though they can reach out if they are struggling, and we have more support available if they do need it.

We’ve got a really open culture when it comes to mental health and we have had mental health first aiders in place for a couple of years. We have definitely made a conscious decision to do more signposting to specialists support services too throughout the pandemic, we wanted people to have a resource available 24 hours a day. We encourage the use of Samaritans and the domestic abuse helpline, as well as our own EAP.

Looking ahead to 2021 what are your predictions for the economy? For your sector?

I think we have some exciting times ahead, there has been more intrusion in our sector in the last 12 months but that just tells us there’s demand!

At the beginning of 2020, we were in a talent short market. What is at the top of your "people strategy" agenda for 2021?

Growth, reputation and responsibility are the pillars for my approach in 2021.

When you have a business that sits across numerous communities, I believe you have a real opportunity, and actually, a responsibility, to have a broader social impact.

Sustainability, social impact and true inclusion are a top priority for us.

What are you doing to retain your superstar / Leaders of the future?

How we treat people has and always will be number 1. You can have the world's most competitive LTIPs but if people don’t feel valued, you’re unlikely to retain them. Knowing what people want and what matters to them is important.

As a Leadership Team, how have you re-defined your vision and values? What have you done to make your culture remote-work friendly?

We haven’t had to redefine our vision or values and I think that’s part of our success. They were well ingrained and are authentic so they have defined us through the last year.

We have looked at our leadership behaviours and have realised that documenting and sharing them has really helped with the alignment and human leadership that I mentioned previously.

What advice would you give to those entering the workforce today?

Do what you are passionate about and make sure that you care about what you are doing. The only way to sustain genuine success is to do something you care about, so don’t compromise.

Whether it’s the job, the culture that you want to work in or something else, try and get an emotional hook on what you do and it will give you real purpose and drive.

The pandemic has caused many of us to reassess what is important in our lives. In what ways have you recalibrated your own priorities and goals.

In all honesty, I think I did this a few years ago when my daughter was unwell. You have key life events that really give you clarity on what matters most to you and where your boundaries are.

Maybe having a moment of reflection and appreciating what is most important to us can be a positive side effect of this challenging year for everyone.

If you found Cat Moseley’s story of the huge impact the pandemic had on Motorpoint interesting, head over to her Linkedin or to find out more about Motorpoint visit their website.

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