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Taking time out of the workplace: Regional Director Gemma McRae’s story

05 Aug

Gemma McRae has been with Travis Perkins Managed Services since 2015, joining us as a Bid Manager before working her way up to Regional Director. Gemma has loved climbing the career ladder at Travis Perkins – and she did it after taking six years off to have children. She’s testament not only to Travis Perkins’ commitment to supporting parents in the workplace, but also the ability to achieve personal and professional goals with the right attitude and tenacity. She spoke to us about her journey so far:

“Travis Perkins is a company that’s interested in personality and culture, not just your qualifications”

Before joining Travis Perkins, Gemma worked as a Key Account Manager and then National Account Manager for high profile retail customers before taking time out to have a family. After six years, she was ready to return to work, and by chance struck up a conversation with Travis Perkins’ then-CEO John Carter. Impressed with Gemma’s attitude and experience, he recommended she speak to the recruitment team. The rest is history.

“I was nervous about coming back to work and balancing my childcare commitments”

After six years off, Gemma was naturally cautious about returning to the corporate world, particularly as she wanted to maintain a balance that allowed her to look after her children. With no family locally, the childcare falls solely onto Gemma and her husband, so Travis Perkins’ supportive and flexible approach to childcare pickups and other responsibilities was warmly welcomed by Gemma.

“My first task was restructuring a department and improving our win rate”

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Gemma was determined to add value immediately in her new role as Bid Manager. She overhauled processes, reviewed the department structure and helped to significantly improve the win rate. Having this early success gave Gemma the confidence to know she could commit to work and to her family in equal measure, which she says was extremely important.

“I picked up more hours and responsibilities quickly”

Although she initially started in a part-time capacity, Gemma was eager to grow within the business and expand her role. She became full time and was promoted to Bid, Pricing and Marketing Manager, where she became directly responsible for a team of around 13 managers. From here she built a new social values and CSR strategy, as well as pricing and communication strategies, implementing new systems and introducing new people to add value to the team. After just over three years in this role, the next big challenge came: Regional Director.

“The role of Regional Director is varied and challenging”

The Regional Director position draws upon Gemma’s understanding of pricing and back office functions, positioning this in a front of house capacity. She is in charge of inspiring her team and leading from the front, meeting and dealing with customers and managing a remote regional team. Directly responsible for profit and loss delivery, Gemma’s daily activities vary but will typically involve travel around her assigned region – the north. She supports with customer meetings and strategies, empowering her team members to make decisions and visit with operational staff to oversee their processes. She’s committed to upskilling her team and giving them learning opportunities they need to succeed, as she says this is how she has succeeded in her career.

Gemma never anticipated working for a builder’s merchants, sitting on boards and understanding procurement law and finance, but says Travis Perkins’ commitment to personal development and growth ensures she is always interested and learning. Describing herself as a ‘generalist’, Gemma says her route to Regional Director isn’t the typical one, but her natural curiosity and willingness to try new things proves that if you’re the right person for the job, it can happen for you.

“I’ve been a workaholic in the past, but Travis Perkins’s family values have kept this in check”

For Gemma, the transition from being a stay at home mother to a working parent has been made easier by Travis Perkins’ genuine family values. She says the flexibility and support doesn’t just extend to mothers – fathers, caregivers and others with different responsibilities are encouraged to balance their work commitments with their home lives.

“I was never overlooked for promotion despite needing some flexibility in my role”

Gemma was promoted quickly and readily at Travis Perkins Managed Services, something which she is proud of. She maintains that her role as a mother has never been held against her, nor has her requirement for some flexibility. She demonstrated her value and commitment, and this has been rewarded in turn.

“If you have drive, determination and character, you will go far”

By working hard, proving her worth and taking on new opportunities, Gemma shows that parenthood and career progression aren’t mutually exclusive. She believes Travis Perkins recognises potential even before individuals do, and will provide the support and encouragement required to develop and progress within the business.

“Regardless of your circumstances, if you show your mettle, work hard and put your hand up, you’ll find so much support within the business”

If you’re interested in joining a supportive and flexible workplace, you might find your next opportunity at Travis Perkins. View our current vacancies or read more insights on what it’s like to work with us.

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