How did I get here? Part 3

Meeting Anne, Princess Royal at the official Southco UK opening

Recap from part 2

At IMI Cornelius, I found what is was I wanted. It was a career in what is now known as Supply Chain / Logistics.

I pushed myself and was rewarded with a great promotion. 

Part 3 – I almost lost it all – but I didn’t give up!

Life outside of work wasn’t without its issues – I became seriously ill and had some major surgery. I was determined to get back to work as soon as possible and continue to take advantage of the opportunities offered by IMI, such as going for a degree!

I chose to do a degree in Manufacturing / Operations Management and Supply Chain and Logistics, with what was then the Institute of Operations Management (now the CILT). I was doing well, when I was struck with a serious illness – this set me back in my studies.

The college was about 35 miles away from where I lived, but once I was back on the road to recovery, it didn’t stop me. I excelled in some areas and struggled in others, but thanks to the great professors and the team of people in my classes I persevered.

It was right in the middle of my studies that I got the most devastating news of my working life…I had been with IMI for 8 years when we were ushered into a room…. To be told that we would be losing our jobs! Still today, 23 years on, I remember that feeling of imminent despair.

IMI had recently acquired Coldflow Dispense, based right by Hillsborough and Bertie Bassett in Sheffield. They owned the land. From what I recall, the location where I worked in Alcester, Warwickshire, was leased from our parent company, and we had no opportunity to expand. It was a simple business decision, but it affected so many lives of people in Alcester and the surrounding towns.

The notice was given in October of 1993, with the first of the lay-offs happening shortly after.

Some of us were asked to help with the transition. I was eager to help, and so I worked with the team in Sheffield to get them ready for the transition from a production planning / supply chain perspective. At first it was so hard! It was hard to concentrate on work, hard to not worry what would happen to me, to us – my team.

I eventually was given my last day “date” – 25th February 1994. 

Christmas of 1993 was one of my worst ever. I hadn’t finished my studies, I didn’t have a degree yet… who would hire me????

Nevertheless, I eagerly picked up the paper week after week, after week! I applied for 36 jobs in total. I got 2 interviews from those jobs, 8 refusals and 26 no response at all.

Of the two interviews, one started around Christmas time, and it was in Coventry (automotive industry). The job was for a position higher than what I was currently doing, but I was determined to push myself. After 3 interviews (including with the Italian owner), I waited, and waited. No news was coming. I did make one call, the gentleman said they were still reviewing the candidates. I continued to look for work. As Christmas came and went it was getting closer and closer to my end date.

At the end of January, I had still not heard about the job in Coventry, and of course I did not “put all my eggs in one basket”, but also the number of jobs to apply for were pretty small.

On the 7th February 1994 I got a call from an agency regarding a job I had applied for based in Worcester. On the 14th February I an interview with my prospective boss – Mr. John Roderick. John would be one of the most influential men in my working career. So yes – I got the job.

The company was a small(ish) company that was headquartered in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania – which really didn’t mean much to me at the time.

Within hours of the interview, a job was offered. 

My first emotion – relief!

My second emotion – pride – I was so proud of myself.

The job was HUGE! Production Planning and also Systems Administration and helping set up Warehousing / Logistics as they built a greenfield site.

A deal was struck! They wanted me to start immediately as there was a computer software course starting that week. However, I still had a responsibility to IMI – my existing boss and new boss talked, and I was granted leave to go on a computer course to learn a new software (Symix). I returned to work after the course for 4 days – my final 4 days at IMI. I was sad, I was also nervous for what lay ahead.

One final item to organize was my studies. I was in my final year and I was concerned about how it could be transferred etc. But I need not have worried. IMI gladly paid for the remainder of my course, even the re-sit of my final exam (in 1995).

28th February 1994 I became an employee of a little-known company in England – Southco. The location was a little warehouse and office area very close the Lea and Perrins factory – Gregory’s Bank, Worcester.

Southco was the next chapter – my second job. I was determined to give it my all and be the best I could be.

Where IMI had opened my eyes to more opportunities, Southco opened my eyes to a whole new world of business and what a career can be.

I spent almost 15 amazing years at Southco.

For those who have worked / are working at Southco, I doubt you would disagree that it truly was a family.

The most important thing for me, was to develop myself, whilst also helping our team and company be successful.

My initial responsibilities were to help set up our warehousing / logistics / planning in our brand-new state of the art facility in Worcester. This would become our central warehouse for distributing product all over Europe. There were ups and downs of course, but overall this was just an amazing time. 

I partnered with our Sales / Customer Service team – we wanted to ensure we had the best partnership and relationship. One thing I learned from my colleagues at IMI – What we term S&OP today was not something that was automatic back then – and we needed to build solid relationships.

So many amazing memories to share, but the stand out one was after we moved to a state-of the-art facility, still in Worcester, and I had the honour to meet and talk with HRH Princess Anne, when she officially opened our new facility. 

Coming up in part 4 – a huge life changing event, global travel and getting involved in technology.

Published by laurah66

Born and raised in England - moved to the US in 1998 - traveled all over. Animal lover, love to knit, write. Enjoy music, cooking, and since 2021 I have changed my lifestyle to include exercise as a priority in my life. I believe in humanity

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