The next part of our 'Getting to know' series introduces Steven O'Connor...
...Steven is Kindertons' Head of Depot Network and oversees our network of eleven transport depots.
Tell us a bit about your background.
I left school at 16 and after a short period on a Youth Training Scheme in retail I joined the Royal Air Force. After 2 years’ Service I volunteered for a specialist “Discrete” logistics unit and travelled many of the worlds trouble zones. I spent ten 10 years in the Air Force and then left to pursue a civilian career in Logistics. I worked as a truck driver and eventually became a transport manager for a large German Supermarket.
Why did you decide to do the work you are doing now?
After almost 6 years in Retail logistics I was looking for a new challenge, although logistics is my bread and butter, my great passion in work is coaching others to be their best. After seeing an advert for my present position in Kindertons and researching the companies ethos, I knew it was a position I really wanted and that there was the chance to shape the future of not only the company itself but also those for whom I have responsibility. Through this I knew I can create a legacy and install that passion to develop others in the managers and leaders that report to me.
What's a typical day for you working at Kindertons?
I have always been an early riser so after completing my usual daily routine of my run and dog walk, I’ll head to one of our national depots. I try to be a regular presence at all our national locations to support the depot managers. I usually travel by train so I’ll catch up with my emails whilst travelling and work on any projects. I’ll arrive at the depot and try to speak to as many staff as possible and have a catch up and update with the management team. I’ll also speak to my Regional HR business partners and catch up on HR issues across the network.
What makes Kindertons different to other places that you’ve worked?
Kindertons is in an exciting period of development and change and is vastly different from the logistics industry from which I came. I love the energy within the business, and I am constantly encouraged to challenge the status quo. I also encourage my guys to do the same and this brings with it a great feeling of empowerment at all levels that I have rarely experienced elsewhere.
If you didn’t do your current job, what would you do instead and why?
If I didn’t do this job, I would most certainly be working with animals. My wife who works in the Veterinary profession and I have a host of rescue animals at home from our black cat with extra toes and thumbs to a giant Greek dog and even an ex race-horse so I would happily spend my days working in a rescue centre or animal sanctuary.
What could you give a 30-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?
Workwise that would be transport law and what a riveting 30 minutes that would be for you. In my personal life it would be my other love which is long distance endurance running
In your opinion, what does good customer service look like?
If we can not only meet our customers’ expectations but exceed them then we will continue to move forward as a leader in the industry. I also reflect on who my own personal customers are, and this includes the guys who report to me. I am there to serve them and provide them with a good customer experience. Every interaction you have with another person, be that a member of the public or a report should leave them with at least one positive message that they can walk away with.
What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Throw themselves from a plane. Something I have done on numerous occasions and there is no feeling like it. It would certainly be my go-to hobby if I lived in a country with more predictable weather. I remember one time floating down to earth at sunset as a buzzard flew along side me shadowing me for a few minutes. Its one of the best experiences of my life and a memory I will always treasure.
What do you wish you could tell yourself 10 years ago? What do you think you’ll want to tell your current self 10 years from now?
“Calm down everything is going to be alright!". I have made what seemed at the time to be some strange and eclectic career choices in the past, which at the time didn’t make sense to me or anyone around me. These choices though have enabled me to develop the skills and life experience that I now use every day in my job. In ten years time I want to be able to say that I made a positive difference to someone every day. That’s it really I want to leave every person or opportunity I encounter in a better place that it was before I arrived. If I can tell myself that then I’ll be happy
What do you think is going to be the biggest challenge for our customers over the next five years?
The changes in legislation and vehicle technology that the next few years are going to bring are going to affect us as a business and we need to make that as seamless as possible for all our customers. As we move away from petrol and diesel engines into cleaner power sources, we have an amazing opportunity to affect not only our customers attitudes to driving in a more carbon neutral way but also to have a positive impact on the planet. As we begin to provide more efficient and cleaner vehicles to customers we can direct effect their driving choices in the future.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“Trust an expert” we can’t be experts at everything, but everyone has their niche. Trying to do everything is the quickest way to burn out. So, you need to be conscious of other people’s strengths and allow them the flexibility to develop them. That is what helps to build great teams.