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Change is inevitable – Nicola’s Story

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Before I came to AO I had a good grounding in customer service, and was delighted to find the ethos matched my own when I joined here. Usually, it can take some time to settle in to a new job, but things were really easy for me.

Two years ago, I wrote a piece for International Women’s Day – What does it mean to be a woman?

I was very surprised and equally honoured to be asked for my contribution. I was nervous that my history and experiences as a trans woman could possibly count against me.

A different type of journey

Growing up, I was very lucky to have amazing role models in my life – with my mother, aunt and sister all being teachers. My sister in particular; strong, fiercely independent, and outgoing. She was someone I really looked up to, so I had a good grounding.

My own journey of course was somewhat different. At 21, I was fresh faced, full of optimism and unbelievably excited when I received my drivers license with that magic “F” marker. But simultaneously so sad that I was now halfway across the country away from my family.

I was proud to make a life for myself and help to educate the people I worked with. I also got to help others deal with some of the emotional roller-coasters trans women face, providing emotional support. It’s taken a lot for me to get to this place, and I’m eternally grateful to the women in my life who have supported me, helped and guided me.

A lot changes in two years

They say that ‘Change is inevitable. Except from a vending machine’ …and there have certainly been a lot of changes over the last couple of years.

First, there was the small matter of a pandemic, and that brought with it a massive shift in ways of working. Transitioning to working from home and dealing with all the challenges this threw up at AO – from safety measures for our Delivery Drivers through to how we deal with getting authorisation for order updates.

We also had a lot of changes internally within our call centre to our focus, processes and leadership. But I do have to admit, there’s been so much support throughout this and I’m excited to see the benefits it brings moving forwards.

Opportunities to learn and grow

I also had a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow here at AO when I took a secondment to our Buyers team. It was totally different work, a very different vibe, but I loved working with the team – they are all wonderful, creative folks.

I got a chance to experience the other side of the business, away from customer-facing work and I now have a much better understanding of the “how and why” of what we do. And that wouldn’t have been possible without people willing to take a chance on me, for which I am very grateful.

The biggest positive about working here is the people

At each step, I have been able to lean on people to advise and guide me through these changes. It’s been good to have colleagues I can bounce things off of and get different perspectives on what’s going on or things I’ve not quite figured out.

I genuinely don’t think I’ve found a place with this much camaraderie before moving to AO. There’s definitely a strong sense of ‘we’re all in this together’ and working towards a shared goal. No matter which department or part of the business you work in, we all share the same common thread.

Right here and now, I am a woman

There are days when I still doubt myself, but right here and now, I am a woman. I think about how women are pushing boundaries and exploring who they can be, as opposed to being limited in their horizons and expectations as they have been in the past.

AO has been a really good place for me. Having built this life for myself, to be authentic in expressing myself, not holding back or hiding anything. I am very grateful for this and give thanks to those whose shoulders I stand on.

Nicola Wood
Customer Service Specialist

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