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“I don’t have a big 5-year plan” – Jess Story

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Hi, I’m Jess! I’ve worked at AO for almost 6 years and I’m currently working in the Talent Acquisition team.

Stopgap to no gap

I was 18 and fresh out of college when I first applied for AO. I’d been thinking about going to university to do teaching, but was unsure if that was 100% what I wanted to do with my life. I’d heard and seen great things about AO, so applied intending to stay for a year maximum, while I figured out what to do with the life ahead of me.

I started in Customer Experience and never looked back!

I instantly loved AO; the people, the job, the culture and the opportunities I could get if I worked hard enough. Although I was excited by my new job in the Contact Centre, I was also terrified! I didn’t have much confidence at the time and I’d never done anything like this. I remember my first day going on the phone after training, and I knew I just had to throw myself into it, so I was the first person in my training group to brave it and take my first solo call. And it really wasn’t as bad as I thought!

My confidence massively grew over the next 6-9 months, so when an opportunity came up to progress into our Academy, coaching and training new starters just like I had been not so long ago, I knew I had to go for it. Again, I’d never had any experience in this kind of role but before my interview, I researched everything I possibly could on coaching so I could come across in the best way, and it worked; I got the job!

Time for another change

I loved my time as an Academy coach, as it felt like I was going into a similar role as teaching which is what I’d wanted to do, just in a more corporate environment. After 9 months, I decided I wanted to take the next step up again, and was so hungry for more, that I got a new role as an Assistant Manager and moved teams. I really enjoyed my time doing this, however 6 months in, I realised I’d moved too soon without feeling fully ready, and made the decision to step back into the Academy and learnt a really valuable lesson that although it’s great to be hungry to move up, you also have to know the time is right and wait until you’re ready.

I spent the next couple of years on the Academy again, working through COVID and working from home, which was tough, but really grew in confidence and experience. The time finally came again that a role was available as an Assistant Manager, and this time I felt ready! But at the same time, a role came up in the Talent Acquisition team. I’d wanted to work in Talent Acquisition for years but roles rarely came up, so when it did, I knew I had a big decision to make.

I got the job in Talent Acquisition back in July 2021 and it was the best thing I did. It was another really exciting, new challenge that would push me outside of my comfort zone and be something I could put my people skills towards. I found it challenging at first, and I remember just feeling out of my depth. Although I had great knowledge about AO, I knew nothing about recruitment and it was scary to do something so different after being in the Contact Centre for 4 years. It took me a while to come out of my shell and feel comfortable.

Hard work really does pay off

However, I moved from recruiting into our contact centres, to recruiting logistics, and it changed everything for me. I learnt a new side of AO in general and worked really closely with my stakeholders. I had a lot of autonomy and started to trust myself and realise I was good at what I did. I eventually moved back to recruiting for the Contact Centre, but was a different and better recruiter when I came back. A highlight of my time in Talent Acquisition was winning “TA Specialist of the Year” at the end of 2022, and it really solidified that I was right where I wanted to be.

I absolutely love my role, my team and AO, and although I can honestly say I don’t have a big 5-year plan, I know that my possibilities are endless at AO and I can achieve whatever I put my mind to. I’m so grateful for all of the opportunities I’ve been given, the amazing managers that have supported me along the way, and every team that I’ve been in that has accepted me and made me feel like part of a family. A massive part of AO is the values and the culture, and they really are second to none. I’d absolutely recommend AO to anyone looking for something new, and if 18-year-old me can take the plunge to try something new, so can you!!


Jess Allen

Talent Acquisition Specialist