EVERYONE knows that moving house is one of the most stressful experiences of your life. How about moving home when you’re heavily pregnant? We caught up with Blueberry Director and mother-of-two Pamela Welsh about how she coped with the challenge. Now firmly settled in her cosy new abode and back to work, she reflects upon her 14 successful years at the firm and how she juggles work and family life.
“Part of my degree was spent studying abroad for a year in Granada, Spain. That was one of the best years of my life,” said the 38-year-old. “On my return, I decided that I wanted to live and work in Leeds. It’s such a vibrant city, it’s where I went to university and met my husband.”
After gaining a Spanish & English literature degree at The University of Leeds, Pamela worked at a national energy company and was destined for management through their graduate scheme.
“My soul just wasn’t in it,” she said. “I remember taking the day off work to visit a university job fair and that’s where I found the Blueberry recruitment stand. It was a relatively new company, with only four staff members. Helping to shape a start-up appealed to me. I didn’t know much about marketing at the time, but I was excited about putting my stamp on the business. I started doing telemarketing on the phones and working on client campaigns across all sectors, like manufacturing, healthcare, education, logistics and event management. I was doing well, getting great campaign results, and hitting my Key Performance Indicators. I progressed onto client interactions and started managing more client campaigns and accounts. Before I knew it, I was on the jobs fair stand, looking for individuals that had the right skills, personality, and character to join the company.”
While Pamela already had first-rate communication, leadership, and management skills, she felt like there was a gap in her business marketing knowledge. With the help of Leeds Beckett University, she enrolled on the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Professional Diploma. Pamela completed the diploma around her full-time job and in 2015 scooped the CIM Studying Member of the Year Award for the Yorkshire region. She has since worked on numerous high-profile campaigns with Transport for London, Harper Collins, The National Teaching Awards, and the National Timber Group.
One of her favourite Blueberry ventures has been working for the Department for International Trade (DIT) across the UK. “They’re such feel-good campaigns. Some businesses are aspirational but have never tapped into the overseas market before,” she said. “By promoting the funded business support available to them, some businesses were able to grow their revenues but 10 – 30 per cent, including Blueberry itself.
And while the nation felt the strain after the Covid-19 outbreak, Pamela intensified her efforts to help struggling businesses and people on furlough. “As many industries faced forced closures during the pandemic, we engaged with these sectors alongside Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP), Growth Hubs and local authorities,” she said. “We educated and signposted businesses to support that was available to them and provided employment to those who were temporarily out of work. It was honestly so eye-opening and rewarding to work alongside such a diverse range of people who had very transferable skills. We took on hairdressers, beauticians, home schooling parents and retirees who needed to work and wanted to help businesses during such extraordinary times. I found it an absolute pleasure to have the opportunity to work alongside such passionate people with so much talent and skills on offer.”
It’s not all been plain sailing, Pamela recalls an embarrassing video call with a client where they got a real insight into working from home during a lockdown.
“I joined a meeting without muting myself,” she chuckled. “I gave the eight people online quite the introduction as my toddler shouted excitedly that she’d done a poo on her potty. I hadn’t even said hello to anyone yet! My face flooded red with embarrassment, but to my utter relief, everyone started laughing. We were instantly all on the same page. Boundaries were broken, and everyone relaxed. I think that moment made us all appreciate that everyone was juggling home life and work.”
Women currently make up more than 52 per cent of Blueberry’s workforce, something Faresh Maisuria, Blueberry Founder and Director, considered when devising an enhanced maternity plan for eligible long-standing employees.
“Superwoman springs to mind when describing Pam,” said Faresh. “She inspired a lot of individuals at work in terms of how she managed everything. I mean she already had a little one, was moving home, was about to have a baby and still dealt with all her work commitments. From Pam’s point of view, I recall how she wanted to leave things in the right way, and she enjoyed coaching others to look after things in her absence.”
“It’s important to look after your staff. These are skilled people who have contributed massively to your business. I want to retain those people,” added Faresh. “The relationship between a business and its staff is a partnership. You should help each other through times of growth and different stages in your life. What we didn’t want to do is financially disadvantage anyone who wanted to start a family. The enhanced maternity package was about bridging the pay gap – we would help them, rather than them just relying on the very basic state aid. It was about giving them one less thing to worry about, but also making them feel valued and supported throughout their maternity leave.”
Pamela admitted that she was initially apprehensive about becoming a mother-of-two because she had no idea how it was all going to pan out. “Second time around, you just have to get on with it. You’ve already got a little one in your life so you can’t just have a little afternoon nap or complain that your feet are sore. Having a child has helped me work within my hours. When I’m at work I’m 100 per cent focused on work, and I get things done. I even treated our house move like a work project. The estate agent said I was a delight to work with because I sent everyone involved a daily task list to complete. I needed to know that everybody was on track and doing their job so that we could get into our new house before the baby was born.”
With a new house came unfamiliar surroundings, the inevitable interior decorating and unbearable furniture assembling. Throw into the mix an exuberant toddler, a new baby and her first family holiday abroad, it’s fair to say that Pamela crammed a lot into her maternity leave.
Reflecting on her time away from Blueberry headquarters, she said: “Blueberry was in such a strong position and still is! I knew I could step back and enjoy my leave, confident in the knowledge that the team would carry on the fantastic work that they were already doing. By no means was it goodbye. I had keeping in touch days to check in with the team and kept abreast of any changes and new directional focuses. And it didn’t feel so daunting coming back to work this time, I was thrilled to spend some time in the office. It’s a break, if anything, from looking after two kids at home.”
[Copyright © 2022 Angela Kunawicz & Blueberry Marketing Solutions. All rights reserved.]