In our latest Leading the Way blog we hear from Penny Pearson, TfL Operations Manager, on what it takes to transition to the enforcement industry from other transferable careers.
Over to Penny …
I first joined Bristow & Sutor 6months ago after spending almost two decades working in the events and exhibitions industry. In my previous career, I worked mostly across Europe on events such as Parkex, Traffex, Paris and Farnborough Air Shows, SIBOS, ICE and Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (including launching a new Samsung phone) and big exhibitions across the Banking and Pharmaceutical sectors. No one day in events is the same and I could be involved in everything and anything from coordinating equipment, logistics, contingencies, internet structures, shell schemes, free-builds, content and marketing. It was during this time I was first introduced to working in conjunction with the Transport for London (TfL) brand, not knowing that this would come into play further in my next career step.
Like many other industries, the events sector was hit hard by COVID-19 and I took the opportunity to broaden my horizons. I did not want to go through the same situation again and I was looking for a role that would make use of my skills and experience, offer more security and still give me the chance to head up a large project with a large team at my disposal. I have always believed that out of bad comes good and that has certainly been the case since I looked into enforcement and joined Bristow & Sutor.
A big but achievable change
One of the key differentiators with Bristow & Sutor is that the company directly employs its staff including all HQ staff and Enforcement Agents (EAs). The events industry works more on peaks throughout the year and as such follows a self-employed model, making the prospect of handling operations for one business all year round a fresh challenge for me.
I was attracted to the prospect of working on the TfL brand and I realised at the interview stage what an exciting and major contract this would be from an operations perspective. Bristow & Sutor are very good at providing bespoke solutions to different client needs, but the requirements of a unique brand with the size and scope of TfL required a whole new way of working to be learned, implemented and maintained. Having not worked in enforcement before, I have been able to bring a transferable management approach to the project without any preconceived ideas acting as barriers to client wishes. Experience is very important and I am lucky to be surrounded by a fantastic team full of knowledge, but a fresh mind and clean slate can also be extremely useful when combined with focus, flexibility and an agile mindset.
The appeal of enforcement
A hurdle for some people to overcome when looking to change career may be a misconception of what enforcement is and what jobs in the industry entails, but I would never work at a company that I did not believe has good morals, values and ethics. Bristow & Sutor do a really important job and they do it in the right way. They are a people-focused business, which aligned with my interests and why I was searching for a client liaison style role.
The culture at Bristow & Sutor is open, honest and supportive. When suggesting ideas, I have never come across opposition to change and despite my lack of experience compared to many of my colleagues who have had longstanding careers within the business, I am always listened to with my thoughts considered and taken on board. I have tried my best to get ‘stuck in’ since I started with internal operations beyond my day job and have been welcomed with open arms onto the Health & Safety team.
Working in enforcement would not be for everyone as it is undoubtedly hard work and offers all types of different challenges. But I am proof that if you are interested and ambitious it can be a fantastic career move. I have worked extensively with all types of people throughout my career and I could easily see others who have logistical, financial or operational backgrounds joining and succeeding as part of this team.
Now that I have passed my probation, I am working hard on improvement projects. There is always room for continuing improvements and it is a Bristow & Sutor objective to be recognised as the number one collections partner of TfL and retain that status. I will be playing an integral role working on ongoing strategy and efficiency, drawing on my past experiences to move operations forward for TfL. I am never short of support or training and I am excited about what I still have a lot to learn about the enforcement industry!
I am fully committed to my role with Bristow & Sutor and really appreciate the opportunity I have been given. The business took a chance on me, coming from an unrelated profession, but saw the transferable nature of my skills and have shown constant faith and trust in my judgement. This has made me even more determined to succeed and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for my career here.