In Her Shoes: Charlotte Stoker | Customer Disputes Team Manager, Worldpay

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

In Her Shoes : Charlotte Stoker | Customer Disputes Team Manager, WorldpayI started working in Gateshead card centre on Customer Disputes in 2004 when I was 16 years old, alongside studying for my A-Levels at Emmanuel College and later my degree in Business with Human Resource management at Northumbria University. This was my first ever role and I absolutely loved it! This was my first taste of office life, being a part of the team and the satisfaction of earning enough money to fund my obsession with shoes!

I started working full time on Authorisations in 2009, which was an excellent opportunity to work on the front line, having direct interaction with our customers and servicing their needs and little did I know back then, that this would play a major part in my life to come!

The opportunity arose in 2011 to second to Financial Processing and I began working on the Reconciliations team. This was when I realised my love of training! The business then underwent some big changes, with Advent and Bain purchasing what was streamline and forming the company we now know and love ‘Worldpay.’ When the decision was made to relocate the finance function to Manchester, I was at risk of redundancy. I played a key role in training the new reconciliation team in Manchester, sharing our knowledge and best practices and making sure they had the support to succeed in their roles.

Luckily, I was offered a role on Customer Disputes, and this is when the current chapter of my career began. What I would say is, you never know what is around the corner and as it turns out the relocation provided me with an array of opportunities that lead to me getting the job I dreamed of back when I started in 2004. Change can be a very good thing in the long run!

In 2014 Customer disputes launched the twelve month, ‘C.A.D.E.T’ programme (Customer Disputes Academy for Developing Emerging Talent). I hadn’t been back on the department for very long and I had a new Team manager who was new to the business and didn’t know much about me, so had to really sell myself. I applied for the C.A.D.E.T programme and was fortunate in securing a place. This exposed me to lots of new and sometimes difficult situations, with me being given the opportunity to provide cover for any team managers on holiday/ leave. What I found is that every team has a different dynamic and no two managers are the same. The reason that the management team worked so well was that each individual brought their own special brand to the team. It was a very insightful experience for me and after only 6 months, I was fortunate in securing a permanent team manager role. An interesting fact here is that out of the six other team managers on Customer Disputes at that time, five of them have managed me at some point in the twelve years I have worked here!

The first team I managed was the Processing Support team, which consisted of 8 team members; I was then moved to the Processing team within four months and am now managing a team of 19 direct reports. It definitely has been a steep learning curve; however, I have had an excellent support network from my manager Dave Russell and the rest of the managers on my department and have enjoyed every minute of it.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

I start my day by greeting my team and then collating the stats from the previous day to determine how we have performed against the department SLAs. At the end of the day, I will generally be responding to any queries that have been brought to my attention and making sure everyone knows the plan for the next day.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I do like to know what my next career move is to allow me to keep my eye on the ball. I personally like to set myself short term goals that work as stepping stones towards that future role.

My focus right now is planning for my team and what I hope to achieve through them. My next step will be looking for the next big challenge that presents itself. I personally think you need to take risks and leap into the unknown if you are going to continue to grow, so I try to expose myself to new situations. Sometimes taken a sideward step can be just as valuable for your development as a step up the career ladder; you just need to play to your strengths.

What do you love about working for Worldpay?

Worldpay has been my constant throughout my working life. I have a strong network in Gateshead of people who are always there to help me when I need them and what I have found is there are always opportunities to grown in my career. I can honestly say, I have no idea where I will end up in my career, as the company is ever changing and growing, but I’m excited to find out! I love feeling apart of something special, it’s constantly busy, but I enjoy the challenge. I am very fortunate to enjoy my job and the team I work on, and the people are what make Worldpay a great place to work.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you overcome these challenges?

The biggest challenge I have had to face was when the finance function migrated to Manchester and I was at risk of redundancy. However, in retrospect this was an invaluable learning experience for me and it worked out well for me in the end, securing my role on Customer Disputes.

What was most challenging here was losing my mentor and constant support, when my colleague took her voluntary redundancy. However, this also made it necessary for me and the others on the team to really step up our game and stretch ourselves as no one was there to give us all the answers. I think what is really special about Gateshead, is a lot of people have been here a long time and have a lot of technical knowledge.

How have you benefited from coaching, mentoring or the sponsorship of others?

I think what is really special about Gateshead, is a lot of people have been here a long time and have a lot of experience to share. I have been surrounded by great role models on each of the teams that I have worked on as well as in my extra curricular activities on the engagement groups with Julie McGowan and Lynsey Coleman. People are always willing to offer their advice or support if needed, and having people around you that have the qualities you aspire to can be a great motivator.

I am a huge advocator of mentoring, as I think it can be really useful to have someone from a different business area to confide in and bounce ideas off. A mentor is not there to give you all the answers, but it can be invaluable to ask them to share their personal experiences or to use as a sounding board. Whilst I was participating in the C.A.D.E.T programme, I was fortunate to be mentored by Paul Millington. This was the first time I had formally participated in a ‘mentoring’ programme and Paul made a great commitment to meet with me on a monthly basis, despite his busy schedule!

Do you believe in the power of networking? If so, where do you network?

I have been very fortunate that after 12 years and working on three different departments and five teams, I tend to know a lot of people around the business. I have several relatives and a fiancé working here as well, which is also a nice way to meet people from different business functions. We have a great support network in Gateshead and everyone is always willing to help if they can. I am a representative of the TAP network and the Chair of WOW in Gateshead, I have also supported the engagement group, the ECG group, GOSH charity group etc. so tend to meet lots of people that way. I think Networking is a key tool to utilise.

What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles either inside or outside their own organisations?

I personally have found that networking is the best tool to raise your profile. I have signed up for various committees and networks over the years, which has allowed me to meet people from other business areas and connect with people who’s paths I wouldn’t necessarily cross otherwise.

When you work on a busy department, there isn’t always the opportunity to interact with people in other business areas. This is something that you need to drive yourself. Going along to a networking lunch or an after hours speaker session can be a great way to meet new people. I have found that through the WOW network, I have been able to ask questions that wouldn’t usually come up in the day to day to find out more about certain people around the business.

What advice would you give to those who aspire to a career in a similar field to you?

Never be afraid to take that leap into the unknown. If you have that end goal in sight, can you set short term goals to help you get there?

If you think that you have strengths that are currently sitting untapped, think of ways to expose yourself. I personally, love feeling challenged, so I naturally want to take on additional responsibilities and stretch myself. Make use of your performance reviews to express your aspirations to your manager and document any support you would benefit from.

I was very lucky, to have a great support network, who were willing to share their expertise with me and spend time going into more detail about the different elements of their role. A development programme, such as C.A.D.E.T can be an excellent way to bridge those skill gaps between two roles and an opportunity to try new things. Find out more about other individuals working in that field, what do you perceive as their strengths in the role, ask them about their history within the business, and just as importantly, what have been the difficult parts for them. Ask the key questions, what makes the role worthwhile, what is the average day like.

What does the future hold for you?

In the immediate future, I will be marrying my lovely fiancé Jim in November. I first met him working on the Authorisations department back in 2010, so not only have I gained a job I love working here, I have also bagged myself a husband!

It is a very busy time on the Customer Disputes department and we are charging ahead towards NAP. I am spending my time driving multi-skilling in preparation for the new platform, as well as working on the NAP COMMS group. We had a record breaking year in 2015, defending over £20.2 million worth of disputes for our customers. This year has started off just as eventful, so my focus will be driving performance on my team.

As always, I will be on the look out for my next challenge.

Read more In Her Shoes profiles here.

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