Forty Years On The Job: Meet Carole From WJM
9 May 2017
It seems like an entirely alien concept – staying within a business for 40 years. Just let that sink in: That’s a sizeable chunk of your adult life clocking in to the same office every day. For some of us, that would prove too much. But, for Carole Carr, who works within the HR team at the solicitors WJM, she’s done exactly that.
And, what’s more, she really enjoys her job.
How do you stay in the same place for so long without being tempted to look elsewhere? What makes WJM the type of firm you can spend your entire career at?
I caught up with Carole to congratulate her on her work anniversary and find out more …
“I started off as an office junior,” said Carole, “When I was 16. That was in the days when you went in to the job centre and picked a postcard off the wall to apply for a job. You took it to a clerk and they phoned the business and set up an interview there and then.
“At the time, the firm was Gordon, Smith and Parker. But within the year, they had merged with WJM. When that happened, my salary just about doubled! That’s been the only time anything like that has happened!”
Carole is incredibly enthusiastic about WJM, laughing away as she recalls her very first steps in to the office to her career now. She is very affectionate about the firm she has grown up with.
“After being office junior I then became a typist within the typing pools in here. One day, a partner approached me and said he thought I would do well within HR. He just saw something in me that he thought would be a good fit. And, the rest is history, really.”
This type of career path probably isn’t available these days – the role of ‘office junior’ doesn’t really exist. Most HR employees have a university degree in order to pursue that type of role, and Carole agrees there was much more fluidity in career options when she was first starting out.
Although, she did note that one of the WJM secretaries has recently moved in to a paralegal role within the firm, proving that there still is a little room for movement.
There have also been massive changes since Carole first entered the world of work. Certain elements of her job have become reliant on technology, although she does like to keep a cheat sheet.
“My day-to-day has changed over the years. Obviously, when I first started there was no internet. So, for example, holidays were all chalked up on a big board on a wall within the office, whereas now everything is done electronically … But I still keep a paper copy of things, just in case the technology ever lets me down, I’ll always have a back up.
There are other major aspects of the job that have changed over the years, most notably the question of gender equality.
“Well, about thirty five years or so ago, women weren’t actually allowed to wear trousers! I used to travel to work in my trousers and change in to a skirt when I got here. It used to be a very male-dominated partnership but there’s a lot more female partners now. Years ago, it was mostly older men but there’s more balance now. It’s definitely a change for the better.”
So, what keeps someone motivated after forty years in the job?
“I just like being here. I like the work. I think maybe at some point, I maybe thought about moving on but then you think about it, and you don’t. And forty years down the line, I won’t be starting a job search any time soon!
“And I’m not the only one who has been here for forty years. There are two others who celebrated the same anniversary last summer. So, there are a lot of the same faces here from when I first started. We’ve grown up together.
“The firm employs about Ninety people, which is just a nice size to deal with. They are just a very good company to work for. And that’s why people stay. Now, a lot of the partners in here actually started off as trainees – I can remember them on their first day!”
So, what kind of culture is there at WJM? Presumably there are plenty of perks to life in the firm, to keep Carole – and her fellow anniversary celebrants – staying put.
“There’s a lot of social events. You know, the firm that plays together, stays together. So we have nights out, obviously at Christmas, and at other times throughout the year. It’s good because we’re spread out over three floors here in Glasgow and there are offices in Edinburgh and Inverness, so you can spend months emailing someone or talking to them on the phone and have no idea what they look like. The nights out are a great way to put faces to names.
“There are also useful employee benefits here. We offer a health plan. We do things like season ticket loans for trains and buses – which can really help our employees save money on their commute. We also have our long service awards for major milestones – such as a fortieth anniversary.”
Carole is heavily involved with the firm’s traineeships, which start annually in September, as well as the summer placements and university law fairs across Scotland.
“During their induction I give our new trainees a tour of the office. I’ve probably been saying the exact same script for a number of years,” she laughs.
“Obviously, it’s nice when they get kept on as you get to know someone over their two years here”. WJM do really try to keep on all their trainees when they can. They encourage people to organically grow within the firm. They also run four week summer placements where candidates will get a taste of each department.
“I also help out with the law fairs at the different universities. You can get a real sense of who is keen to come and work for you. I also usually bring along a couple of the trainees – who better to answer the students’ questions? I like doing the fairs – I find it really interesting.”
Carole finishes off with some words of wisdom for those looking to emulate her lengthy career: “You know I think if you’re fitting in really well, you like what you do and who you’re working with … You’ll know yourself if somewhere is a good fit for you and what you want. I think it’s just about doing something you enjoy.”
Our Managing Consultant, Jackie MacGregor, recruits for Office Services staff like Carole. If you would like to speak to her about securing the very best talent for your business, click here.
Written By Mary Palmer