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TGt Meets IWD Special…Amanda Russell of the National Self Build & Renovation Centre

To commemorate International Women's Day, we have a special TGt Meets with Amanda Russell from the National Self Build & Renovation Centre.

Tell us a bit about yourself …

My name is Amanda Russell and I am the Accounts & HR Manager at The National Self Build & Renovation Centre, based in Swindon. I have also recently taken up the post of Company Secretary so my role is looking after the finances, the people and now the corporate governance.

I have 2 daughters, aged 19 and 16 and I spend a lot of time organising family activities, along with my partner Giles, who I have been married to for 20 years. We are a close-knit family and play a lot of board games, quizzes and enjoying a number of wider family events.

I also spend a lot of time studying, and have done for many years, as I believe it is important to keep developing my knowledge and expertise.

Tell us about your business

Our business is a hub for anyone wishing to build and improve new or existing homes. We have over 200 exhibition stands in our large premises which showcase the latest innovations and products that are available for people to integrate into their projects. We also offer 7 different sized meeting rooms, providing a unique conferencing venue and we run in-house courses on a range of areas like project management, finding land and renovations. We have been an employee owned business since 2014, and we are celebrating our special ten-year anniversary this year. Employee ownership is at the heart of everything we do. We all take a vested interest in company performance and value our responsibility to deliver the best experience we can for all our stakeholders - from customers walking through our doors for the first time, our exhibitors and conferencing guests.

What do you love most about your job?

I love that my role is so diverse. Being in a small business, where there are only 20 employees, allows you to wear many hats – especially when we are so busy! My day can go from looking after the welfare of our people, to ensuring suppliers are paid promptly, to writing the minutes of our board and management meetings. I am happy to take care of whatever needs to be done, an attitude I share with my fellow employee owners, and we will never say “it’s not my job”.

What Is your proudest achievement?

In 2021 I was awarded “Employee Owner of the Year”. It was the first time the business had presented this award and it was an absolute privilege to be recognised in this special way. During the covid pandemic, when there was uncertainty about the future of the economy and a few of our colleagues were furloughed, keeping everyone’s spirits up – and helping them remain connected and valued - was important. I felt like I wanted to be the glue that held this together and wanted to be someone they could all talk to regularly to keep updated and just have a chat while we were all at home. I was recognised for this and it helped us see the importance in keeping in touch with colleagues at all times, not just when we were apart. I have since introduced regular, scheduled, check-ins with each colleague, allowing them to talk (if they

want), with no pressure and I am currently studying to be a Mental Health First Aider to expand on that side of the role.

This year’s IWD theme is ‘Inspire Inclusion’ – what does this mean to you?

It’s about promoting diversity and valuing differences in all organisations and beyond but especially in the more influential positions like management. I believe it’s about educating others around you to show that inclusion is about valuing the contribution everyone can make, without discrimination. Women should be valued and empowered and they should be supported and promoted, not just on International Women’s Day, but everyday.

What are the biggest challenges you have faced in your career?

My biggest challenge was deciding how to balance my career with becoming a mum. I was not prepared for the way that my mind changed when having my first child and the different feelings I felt about returning to a job I used to do. I had sorted out returning part-time, which was a help, but I felt that my heart was not in “buying” anymore which is where my career was at that point. So I had a complete re-think and left that part of my life behind, looked forward and changed my path.

How do you balance your business and personal life?

It’s not always been easy because I have done continuous study most of my life, it’s what I choose to do but now I am extremely lucky as I work reduced hours to enable this balance which works so well with my wellbeing and life. Working for an employee owned business allows the flexibility which you might not always get in other businesses. I know what I need to get done and I am responsible for ensuring this happens, it’s about enjoying what I do and being positive.

Which women inspire you the most?

The women in my family are the ones that inspire me most. My mum is amazing, she is so resilient and handles anything that comes her way, she doesn’t criticise other people and always sees the best in them. Both my sisters are so courageous having moved away to build a dream, but realising it wasn’t what they thought and returned, that takes guts to start again. My older sister in particular never complains about her life, she makes positive decisions and gets on with it, and she is a fantastic single mum to her 4 children. I am inspired by women who speak up for themselves about things that matter most to them, people who follow their dreams and never puts anyone else down.

National Self Build & Renovation Centre's website.

National Self Build & Renovation Centre

The National Self Build & Renovation Centre

Lydiard Fields, Great Western Way, Swindon , Wiltshire, SN5 8UB

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