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“STAR has given me the confidence to throw myself into things I would never have considered before” – Honor’s story

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Hi! I’m Honor and I started AO back in 2021, after I’d just graduated from Lancaster Uni. I’d studied Linguistics because I’d always loved all things language, and I especially loved Corpus Linguistics. I thought it was really interesting how I could use computer software to analyse huge sets of texts, but I didn’t really know what to do with this, or what to do with my future! AO was meant to be a stopgap after university whilst I figured out what I really wanted to do, but 3 years and 2 roles later I’m still here – I love it and see a future here now!

The start…

I actually started at AO as a People Services Coordinator, which basically meant I helped AOers all across the business with different parts of their journey. It was nice that I got to work with loads of other teams, from Talent Acquisition to Logistics. I eventually got to be a part of the Engagement team too, which I love, because it means I get to plan fun events for my team like quizzes, team away days and awards days.

STAR changed it all

After a couple of years at AO, I decide it was time to take a next step up, and when I heard about STAR, I knew it would be perfect. I really wanted to work on my confidence at work because I often felt out of my comfort zone, and at the thought of joining STAR was the same, but I knew it was what was needed to help me grow. I learned so much in the 9 months, and we did group sessions, presentations, even delivering a full business project at the end! The project I worked on is still in place today, a year later, which is really good to see. It was in STAR that I also got to explore the Tech department more too, which was really exciting because I’d always had an interest in it but never any experience. I learned loads about so many different areas of the business and met a lot of different people I wouldn’t normally have exposure to, so it was good to build up even more knowledge of AO and grow my skills.


It was also a really fun 9 months! I got to have a mentor from Tech, who I was personally matched with and I built a good relationship with. But it was nice getting to know all the other STARs too. There was 26 of us and we really bonded. I especially loved the scavenger hunt we did and doing a “make a difference” charity day together where we volunteered for Manchester Young Lives. It was great to get stuck in, have fun but most importantly give back to an incredible charity. I’ve really made some friends for life through STAR, and we got to have a graduation ceremony at the end too, to celebrate each other and our wins.

The here and now!

STAR has given me the confidence to throw myself into things I would never have considered before, and halfway through I even moved into a new role! I’m now the People System Specialist, meaning that I look after our recruitment systems and build different reporting platforms to help our wider People Team make more data led decisions. As a bonus, I even get to do a bit of coding as part this, which is something I’m passionate about! It’s opened my eyes to other areas of the business too so I know what’s out there, and know exactly who to go to when I need something. I’d love to do an apprenticeship next and extend my knowledge even further, and I know I have so many opportunities at AO to do things like this!

Honor Wildblood

People Systems Specialist