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Unprecedented with Vicki Riddell

Published 6th October 2021

At Unprecedented, we had the opportunity to speak to Vicki Riddell, Finance Director at Charles Pugh Group, who spoke to us about her advice for those entering the workplace today and how the Covid-19 pandemic has helped her to slow down.

A background into you and your business?

I have over 17 years of finance experience. I started as a Purchase Ledger Clerk and was promoted to Finance Director 2 years ago at Charles Pugh Group. Charles Pugh Group is a family-owned, automotive glass distribution and fitting company and a member of National Windscreens.

Define leadership and what being a leader means to you.

I believe you are only as good as the people around you, provide them with an environment where they can thrive. Someone in your team doing something better than you will only compliment you, not threaten you. You should always listen, put trust in your team and ensure you show them they are appreciated. I also believe you should always respect all team members and the expertise they bring - everyone contributes to a company to make it successful.

I have been very lucky that I have had some great mentors, who have shown their different leadership styles – I think I’ve learnt something from them all.

What would you like your Leadership Legacy to be?

I hope to have been able to have made a difference, helped and influenced people on their future paths and to be the best they can be in their roles.

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

Be honest - never cover up mistakes, be open about them, so we can learn what can be improved for next time. Also always treat everyone with respect. Everyone in the company plays a part in its success, no matter how small a part you think they might play.

What impact has Covid-19 had on you?

Covid has made me reevaluate what is really important and slow down the pace in all aspects of my life. Whilst lockdown was very hard, I think it reminded us of what pleasure we can all get from simple things. Also living for the next holiday, night out, etc is not a conducive way to live.

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

I was in my fellow Directors office when the announcement came that all hospitality was shutting with immediate effect on the 20th March!

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?

My fellow Directors and the team around me were a great support, we worked hard together to (hopefully) make the right decisions during that time. The FD forum run by Macildowie Nottingham was also a great support in those early months, everyone was in unchartered territory and didn’t have the answer (even though we were being looked to know what to do) and it felt quite comforting that we all felt that way.

What have been the Unprecedented decisions you have made? Those where there was no playbook.

The entirety of the Covid-19 pandemic has felt like this. There is nothing in our history to refer to, and we were just making the best decisions from the information that was available at the time.

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

I’ve been lucky to have worked within UK subsidiary businesses in the past, so video calls as a means of communication and remote working were not new to me. I have evolved to make sure everything I need now is at a touch of a button and it can be accessed from anywhere.

Looking back to March 2020. If you could change one decision that you made, what would it be?

If I could change a decision I made during the first months of the pandemic, it would be basing some decisions on the naive thinking that Covid-19 would be all over in a matter of weeks or at worst months.

What are you doing to retain your superstars/leaders of the future?

We are providing training in both their specialisms and leadership and management. We think it’s important to allow them to grow and learn in a positive environment.

Fast forward to 2050...what would you say to your future self, that you did well or badly in 2020 to learn from? 

Don’t beat yourself for not knowing what you don’t know – every day is a school day!

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

Work hard and take every opportunity with both hands! Everything new you learn takes you a little closer to achieving your goals, no matter how small it may seem. Nothing worth having in life comes easy. 

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.

The Pandemic has taught me that going 100 miles an hour every day is not positive in both my personal and work life. I now make time to NOT have plans personally all the time and give myself time to reflect and explore new ideas in the workplace.

If you have enjoyed this blog and would like to learn more about Vicki, or her company, you can visit the Charles Pugh Group website here. Alternatively, you can browse some of our other blogs, here.

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