1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, your role and how you got there?

I’m Caroline Cunningham and I’m an Operations Manager at Gi Group UK & Ireland. My career with Gi Group started in 2008, when I worked as a HR Administrator for one of Gi Group’s Site Managed Service teams. With the support of my Account Manager, I started to take on more responsibility in her absence and was quickly promoted to Assistant Account Manager, eventually being promoted a year later to Account Manager.

Gi Group continued to invest in my development, providing me more responsibility – including management of other sites, which saw me promoted again after a few years to Senior Account Manager. During this time, I further developed my skills including managing teams remotely, working with more and different clients and stakeholders and adapting our resourcing models to meet their differing needs.

In 2018, I went into an interim operations support role following my return from maternity leave. This allowed me to understand our Branch Network operations in more detail and gave me the skills and confidence to apply for the Operations Manager role, which I’ve held since 2019.

 

Have you ever encountered any biases in your career because of your gender?

Thankfully, I haven’t. I feel very fortunate to work for an organisation that treats everyone equally and where people’s talents are encouraged, regardless of gender.

 

  1. What advice would you give to other female talent looking to succeed in a role/career like yours?

The advice that I would give to anyone would be to have confidence in your abilities – have a goal and act for the job you want, not the one you’ve got. I believe that this attitude and working in this way has allowed me to gain the exposure and experience I needed to reach the position that I hold today.

 

  1. What advice would you give to companies to help them create an environment where women can thrive?

I think companies should ensure they understand the goals and aspirations of their employees and provide them with the support to reach them no matter their gender or obstacles they may face throughout their working life.

For instance, women shouldn’t miss out on opportunities because they want to start a family. I feel that I am living proof of that. From an employers’ point of view the advantages of supporting female talent are significant – a strong talent pipeline to support succession planning, retention of key skills and increased loyalty – these are all a huge benefit to any business!

 

  1. How has Gi Group helped you to flourish in your career?

Gi Group and my managers have supported my career. I have continued to develop my career during the 11 years I’ve worked for Gi Group and during that time have also started a family and added to it another two times!

My managers have played a key role in this. They have always taken the time to understand how I wanted to progress and supported me to get there in whatever way they can. This has allowed me to progress alongside bringing up my three children. At times, this has meant that I have had to phase returns from maternity leave, work part time hours or even take time out for parents’ evenings or nativity shows. However, Gi Group are very understanding and supportive of the fact that life happens outside of work.

 

  1. With news that the number of women in FTSE 100 boardroom roles has jumped to 39.1% from 12.5% 10 years ago, how do you envision the future world of work for women?

I think that a lot has changed recently and more women are gaining opportunities that they hadn’t previously had access to. I think that the future is certainly bright for women in business. We now even see women on our TV screens presenting male sports such as football and boxing, so it is now becoming the norm for women to be in roles that they hadn’t traditionally had the opportunity to do.

 

  1. What advice would you give your younger self or another woman at the start of her career journey?

If you want something – go out and get it. As I said before, believe in yourself – always, and act for the job you want, not the one you’ve got.

 

  1. Do you believe we will reach true gender parity in our lifetime?

I believe with how quickly things are changing and large organisations now paving the way in recognising female talent and supporting it, that others will follow suit. Whilst I am an optimist, I also know that we need to keep on banging at the door to ensure gender parity does happen.

 

 What three words would you use to describe female leaders in Gi Group?

Strong

Resilient

Inspiring