Paula Chatterton is grateful to have found a workplace where she can be herself. “Sofology brings out the best in me,” she says. Having recently been promoted to the role of Regional Stock Controller, she shares her tips on how to be seen as a future leader, the importance of workplace wellbeing and how to succeed in a male-dominated workplace.
After 20 years working in administrative roles across the education, transport and retail sectors, Paula found herself out of work in 2017. She joined specialist sofa retailer Sofology as a temp to help out with the Christmas rush. Twelve weeks later, a customer support operator role came up and Paula applied. “The rest is history,” she says.
Growing as a future leader
In March 2020, Paula was promoted to Regional Stock Controller. She now oversees Sofology’s five depots in the south of the UK, and is responsible for ensuring efficient management of stock and shipments.
Even though Paula had been actively voicing to management her eagerness to learn, grow and expand her responsibilities at Sofology, she’s still grateful to have been given the opportunity.
“I’m in a very responsible role now and I’m just so happy they have given me a chance to prove that I can do this. They’ve seen something in me that maybe I haven’t seen myself but they’ve given me the confidence that I can do it.”
To help her succeed in her new role, Paula was recently nominated to participate in Sofology’s Next Generation program, an initiative designed to provide future leaders with the development and support to reach the next steps in their career.
For anyone wanting to be recognised as a future leader, Paula’s tips are to:
- Be a team player and approachable.
- Be honest and open about your career aspirations.
- Show determination, loyalty and trustworthiness.
- Demonstrate that you’re committed to the company’s success.
She adds: “If you want it bad enough, show that that’s what you want. Be open and honest about it.”
And honesty is one of Paula’s core values. “It’s all about honesty!”
Working in a warehouse
Paula has no issues working in a male-dominated environment like a warehouse. In fact, she enjoys it.
“Things are changing, it’s not like it was in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Personally, I don’t have a problem working within a mostly-male environment. I’m treated as an equal and I enjoy chatting with everyone.”
She encourages any female unsure about working in a male-dominated workplace to just go for it and give it a chance.
“I think you just have to believe in yourself and be confident. If you treat people the way you want to be treated and just be yourself, you can’t go wrong.”
In the event that you do face discrimination, which Paula has experienced occasionally throughout her career, she recommends you call it out.
“If there is an issue, I’ll say, ‘Can we please sit down and talk about it?’ It’s as easy as that and it works. It gets everything out in the open. Like I say, honesty is key.”
Championing workplace wellbeing
Having experienced her own issues with mental health, Paula understands the importance of good health and wellbeing in the workplace. Because of this, she often finds herself supporting her colleagues by providing a helpful ear to talk to, which led to her becoming an official Sofology Wellbeing Champion.
“People always say, ‘Paula, she’s so easy to talk to, she points us in the right direction, she doesn’t get embarrassed, we can talk to her about anything’. It’s so nice that they feel they can come to me. I’m glad I can help them,” she says.
“I do think having wellbeing champions within the workplace is really important and valuable. It’s a fantastic thing that Sofology has instilled.”
Paula is conscious of taking care of her own wellbeing, prioritising time for the things she loves doing outside of work.
“I enjoy Zumba, spin class, live music (particularly jazz), theatre and visiting nice restaurants with my hubby. I also love socialising, entertaining and the odd bit of cooking, as well as spending time with my gorgeous little great niece.”
Being your true self
After a number of previous jobs that have knocked her self-esteem, Paula feels like she’s finally found a workplace where she can be her true self – and where she can be honest.
“If you’ve got ideas on how something can be improved, management here are really encouraging of that. They’ve got this open door policy and strong core values that they really live up to [Sofology’s values are committed, progressive, caring, trusted, exceptional and fun].
“There is also a big focus on creating a diverse and equal workforce. We’re having a lot of training on that at the moment, which is great.”
Overall, it’s just a lovely place to work, says Paula. “I look forward to coming to work. I enjoy the people, the company and the job.”
And her favourite part of the job? “It’s the customer satisfaction. It’s so nice when you get an email or phone call from a customer who’s just so happy with the experience and seeing the sofa in their house. I really enjoy that.”