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Blog : Engagement, retention and development - a true story


Engagement, retention and development - a true story

Alex ThomsonA farewell letter from talent toolbox customer services manager Alex Thomson who is returning home to Australia in May.

I remember my first day at learnpurple (lp) very well. The day before Australia had just lost the Ashes to England and everyone was walking around with a big grin on their face - except me!

I started here as office administrator and PA to our directors, Jane and Jo. My role involved changing light bulbs, managing the diaries, going to the post office and all the exciting stuff. Things changed pretty quickly though, and I soon found out that this was a company that would give me many opportunities and put total trust in me as long as I was honest, and open to learning. During my interview I was told the minimum requirement was to stay a year, which seemed like a very long time considering how I had planned to be commitment free. But almost four years down the track I can't believe how fast it has gone. (Although Alex's role changed completely, it has to be said he is still the one to change the light bulbs!)

When I joined, I was asked to complete an iWAM psychometric profile so that Jane could see how I liked to work, and how I needed to be managed. Amongst other things, this said I was highly internal i.e. don't need to tell everyone what I'm doing and what I had for breakfast, and I don't like to be told what to do. So that's exactly how I have been managed, and everyone has been happy with that! I immediately liked the responsibilities I was given and wanted more so moved over to work with Jo full time on customer service for the wonderful (award-winning!) talent toolbox. Each day has been a new challenge but it has always had the same goal: a positive outcome for our clients.

Soon enough, I was trained to present talent toolbox orientation sessions and walking into my first one at Malmaison Hotel, Oxford. I felt good - until the Internet failed five minutes in. There's not really a lot you can do when something like that happens, so I decided then and there that I would be the calm one in a crisis and just got on with it. I certainly have been tested many times in the last couple of years - administering a system with some 8000 people using it - but I have also enjoyed it immensely.

I know how much this job means to me because if, as occasionally happens with new-build software products, we experience a potential issue for a client, I feel uneasy inside, almost sick, until it is resolved. To see the development and continual improvement of talent toolbox and to have been a part of it for so long is something I am really proud of. As a result of lp's positive attitude towards development in all areas of the business, I have been able to improve my presentation, negotiation and networking skills, learnt to do three things at once, and to see a challenge as an opportunity and a way to learn.

In May I will be moving on to a new challenge; starting with a few months trekking through South America inflicting my horrendous Spanish on the locals (taught to Alex by Sol, who has recently joined talent toolbox and will be filling Alex's shoes - only hers are a pair of very high heels). And then back 'Down Under' to see if the Aussies will take me back.

I have had so many highlights in my time at learnpurple. We 'work hard play hard' here and so there's been the company trip to Ibiza; amazing Christmas parties; karaoke; dance lessons; Spanish lessons; ice-skating; quiz nights; office massages; Veuve Cliquot; black tie balls and so much more. I'm sure the Purple People will continue to do well and I will certainly miss being part of such a unique, vibrant and inspirational company.

Thanks for being great clients, I'll miss you too!



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