23 July 2018

Talking heads: 10 minutes with Jen Harper, Talent Director

This new series of articles will lift the lid on the secrets that make Carousel a leading European service logistics provider. Speaking to a range of people from across the company, we will look to demonstrate why some of the biggest brands, in a range of high-performance service industries, choose Carousel to deliver their logistics solutions. We start this series today with an interview with Carousel’s Talent Director, Jen Harper.

How would you describe the culture at Carousel?
We are a team that gets a buzz from providing exceptional service solutions for situations where performance really matters. We understand that the work we do, keeps machines running and helps support vulnerable patients needing treatment so that’s why we work hard to do everything, and more, to deliver the very best service possible.

Internally, we live by four core values which are – Agility, Bravery, Commitment and Care – and without these core values, we would be just another logistics provider. We are agile because we deliver at pace, all the while keeping things simple for our clients. We’re brave because we do what’s best – even when it’s not easy – and we’re committed to delivering our clients’ brand promises, whatever it takes. And finally, we treat one another and our clients with the respect they deserve.

And what about a Carousel person?
Interestingly, at our recent employee update we asked the whole UK team exactly that question. Overwhelmingly, the response was a passionate, flexible, positive and committed team player who is client-focused. It’s an answer that I think sums us up perfectly.

It’s a great team to be part of. Everyone here – whether they’ve been here 20 years or two – is committed to delivering a great service and it’s all because they are passionate about what they do (we’re also all partial to a bit of cake too!)

A lot of people that join Carousel say it’s a bit of a hidden gem – why do you think that is?
Carousel has always been quietly confident in itself and with a strong, loyal and growing client base we’ve never particularly needed to shout about it. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have a lot to shout about! We are an incredibly successful, innovative business with year-on-year growth; particularly so in the last five years. Our clients and employees are strong ambassadors of ours and they’ve helped us grow with their recommendations, which is fantastic.

As the company has grown at such pace, we’ve tripled our headcount in a very short space of time, but we are really proud to have been able to retain and develop our long-serving employees.

You have a longer than average staff retention rate, with some members having been here over 20 years – what’s your secret?
It’s simple. We truly value our employees, invest in them and don’t take them for granted. We’ve never lost sight of the importance our people play in our ability to deliver an exceptional service to our clients. That‘s why we work really hard to create an environment that means our team get up in the morning and look forward to coming to work.

But don’t just take our word for it – we’ve been involved with Investors in People for approximately 12 years and we were the first logistics company in the UK to achieve a Gold IIP Accreditation. We have now been awarded it twice which is an outstanding achievement and really reflects how engrained excellence is in our management practices and culture.

Let’s talk a little bit about employee engagement. Why is this piece so critical to the Carousel proposition?
It may sound like a cliché but for us, happy employees equal happy clients! Our employees are our best ambassadors and they are the key to attracting other talented people. Only by working with the best, can we offer the very best service to our clients.

We work hard, focusing on high performance and results, and our internal culture is built around doing what it takes and more – but this is both for our clients and for each other. Every employee embodies this attitude and we make sure we always celebrate our successes together and recognise when a job is well done. We have set up a lot of mechanisms internally that allow us do this every day.

How does Carousel overcome its fast-paced environment and high expectations, all the while keeping people involved?
Communication! We run regular sessions and initiatives which encourage the sharing of information and the wider business strategy, with staff at all levels.

Tactics include staff newsletters, pulse surveys and feedback forums. We also have an open door policy, daily management huddles, weekly management meetings and quarterly all-employee updates. We’re also really open with our employees about the business, and that means every department has KPIs aligned to the wider strategy, and these even trickle down to an individual level so everyone knows what part they play in helping the organisation achieve its goals.

How does Carousel approach staff development and career progression?
As the company grows, naturally the breadth of some job roles can change and more opportunities open up across the business. Vacancies are advertised internally and we always encourage internal applicants.

We support our employees with a mixture of internal training sessions, external courses and professional qualifications, as well as the usual ‘on the job’ training. Examples of career progression include our current UK Finance Director, who started here as an Assistant Accountant on a maternity cover contract! We also have people right across the business whose careers have seen them undertake roles in a variety of different departments – increasing their skills, knowledge and experience.

If you had 30 seconds, how would you ‘sell’ Carousel to me?
I would say that it’s a successful, fast-growing organisation with a streak of entrepreneurial spirit, a strong strategy and a clear goal. The way it’s run and the foundations it is built on, means that we can offer an enormous amount of opportunities for every one of our talented employees.

Personally, I joined because everyone I met was so passionate about Carousel. Our new pan-European presence means that it is an incredibly exciting time at the company and I’m so pleased to be a part of its future success, just as much as I was the day I joined over three years ago.

What are you recruiting for now and how can someone contact you?
We’re always looking to attract the very best logistics talent, both here in the UK (where we have three sites), and across Europe to help drive and support our continued growth plans.

We’re always open to meet talented individuals with relevant experience and our current vacancies can be found on our website. We never say ‘no’ to meeting a talented logistics expert – so even if there’s nothing suitable at present, get in touch and let’s meet for coffee! Simply, click the link below.