On 16th September 2013, I walked into Retail inMotion (RiM). It’s been one hell of a rollercoaster. This is my love letter to RiM and the people who were beside me for the last 10 years.
- My interview was nuts – really nuts. The place, the people and the potential of the company grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. What I remember most from the interview process was the feeling and it was a feeling I wanted more of. I remember thinking I’ll give this place a shot, and if it’s as crazy as it seems I can leave and pretend it never happened!
2. GROWTH (capitalisation intended). The company took off like a rocket, a rocket full of people who were figuring it out as we went along. I have grown with RiM, and most of that growth was by making mistakes and figuring things out the hard way. Like a baby learning to walk—to work in a start-up, you must be okay with falling over regularly but never giving up.
3. A multitude of tasks and asks landed on my desk that I didn’t have the first clue how to do. What did I learn? That when you put your mind to something you can most likely figure it out. And if you can’t figure it out you certainly know someone who can. Relationship-building is everything when you work in a startup.
It gave me great confidence in my own ability to do the tough stuff. Then you scale the bravery to much bigger, more complex problems.
4. Amid the astronomical growth, we were bought fully by our minority joint partner The LSG Group. Picture the scene: RiM – Irish(ish), small, mad, fun, chaotic, is taken over by a German, process-driven giant with a long history of manufacturing airline food. It could have been an unmitigated disaster.
What we found were many people who “got us” and tried to help us be even more “us”. Yes, they were keen on getting more process-driven – which was essential anyway at that point of our growth – but processes were never forced on us and workarounds were possible. What we had in common was the nicest, most passionate people. You can always find commonalities with great people. Were there hiccups? Of course. Did we get them sorted? Nine times out of 10, yes.
5. Then came the drive for stabilisation. You can’t run a company on passion alone. We embarked on our journey of Customer Success, Agility, Automation, process-mapping, restructuring and many more ventures to turn us into a grown-up company. Did we get it right, did we communicate and explain everything and put things into context? You bet we didn’t!
We always do more than we can, faster than we should. But to grow a company, you must do this. We have amazing people who are taking all the above and making it simpler, less theoretical and bringing our teams with them on the journey.
6. Very early on we were certified Great Place to Work – proudest day of my life. We didn’t deserve to get certified that first year. We only held the survey to get the great data from it. Because of the supreme warmth, empathy and the “we are in it together” culture, our employees scored RiM higher than the facts would have suggested.
7. We lost the certified Great Place to Work status – devastating and deserved. I learnt a lot from this. My strategy had been that HR would work on everything that HR could control (like wellbeing and celebrating), while I worked in the background on influencing leadership to work on communication, management techniques, or where I needed cash that I didn’t have.
It backfired spectacularly – feedback was that HR didn’t take the problems seriously and just papered over the cracks with Yoga. Lesson learnt! Due to this, topics that we had really advanced in actually scored lower than they did in years we paid no attention to them.
8. COVID came, stayed and wiped the rug out from under our feet. Anyone working in HR will remember how hard and almost traumatic it was to try to support people in a world of fear and chaos. People wanted certainty from us, which we were unable to give. They wanted answers to questions that even world-leading experts could not answer. When times are tough, I go inwards. I researched resilience techniques, I practised anchoring techniques, I focused on the incredibly valuable learnings we could take from what we were going through. My professional experiences in COVID changed me for the better and showed me how important it is to look after your own mental health first so that you can be a much better support to others.
9. The Great Resignation came quickly on the heels of COVID. Most resignations felt like a punch in the gut. Why? Because I loved working with most of the people who left; because they left a huge hole that was my responsibility to fill; because their departure left their colleagues worried and stressed; because I could see all the work, sweat and tears we had spent building this company quickly slipping away. Two years later, some of the people have returned; some have expressed interest in returning; and many new, wonderful people have joined us.
Turns out, I love building. When I changed my mindset from one of loss to one of opportunity, everything changed for me.
10. In my 10th year, we are facing huge change again. Now, I have a completely different attitude to change compared to when I joined RiM.
10 years ago, I operated from a position of fear and scarcity. Now I operate (most days!) from a position of opportunity, collaboration, trial and error, and agility. I have done so much inner work that I am super clear on the environment I need to thrive, and I understand how to create it and ask for it. I operate from an encompassing attitude of gratitude:
– I have a wonderful team whom I adore and who allow me the space to be the real, authentic me. I learn from them every day. They help me to be the leader I want to be.
– Since LSG bought RiM I have had four male, German bosses. Each of which I felt very lucky to report to and who again give me the space to be the real, authentic me.
– We have a fantastic Exec Team who really support me, and I can be open and vulnerable with every single one of them. I think that’s rare, and I honestly appreciate it. I am usually a very joyful person and I feel no need to wear a serious “work uniform” in RiM’s environment.
– I am part of a wonderful, supportive authentic global HR Community in LSG. They allow me the space to be real, etc, etc… do you see a theme here?
– And every single day, I come into contact with gorgeous humans. There are so many of them at RiM! So many nice, genuine moments are scattered throughout my days. The key is to be able to see them.
10 years distilled into 10 moments in time, and my overarching feeling is: how lucky I am that I took the chance on the mad little company I discovered one day in 2013!