Viki Fitzgerald – Employee Q&A

Through this insightful interview, Viki shares with us her main responsibilities as Operations Administrator and how the team managed to stay fully operational during the Covid19 Pandemic.

Tell us a little about you and how you came to be working for REDS Group?

I have been working in a variety of Administrative and Operational roles since I left college in 2001.  Before joining REDS, I had been working as a Product Development Administrator and Co-ordinator for a footwear company based in Exeter.  When Covid19 hit the UK and the first lockdown was announced, I was placed on furlough.

Due to working in a retail-based sector I knew that the outcome probably wouldn’t be good news so immediately started looking for a new job.  I was made redundant from that role in June 2020, by which time I had already been interviewed by Julia Murch, HR and Compliance Manager, for the Operations Administrator role. Two days after I had my redundancy notification, Julia called and offered me the position.

I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason, if it hadn’t been for furlough, I would probably have never started looking for a new job and found out that REDS were hiring.  I am so pleased that I did, as I am thoroughly enjoying being part of the REDS Group Team.

What does your day to day look like?

It is difficult to put a structure to a day in the Operations Office as no day is ever the same.  Having said that there are several core elements to my role, such as raising purchase orders and building method statements for all jobs.  I also manage the stock levels for our spill kit and maintain the servicing records for all our equipment as well as managing the vehicle fleet ensuring that maintenance, and MOTs are all up to date.

Thursdays are our “Resources Day”, where you will find me booking accommodation and setting up appointments for all of the team for the upcoming week.  This is quite a logistical challenge as we are a nationwide company, with REDS team members located across the UK.

Spill response requests come directly into the Whimple office, usually by way of an emergency call. Emergency calls take priority over other tasks, once all information regarding the spill has been gathered, I mobilise engineers to site and ensure that they are stocked with the appropriate equipment.

I have also been encouraged to attend some of the sites to gain hands-on experience, the image to the left shows me assisting the Environmental Consultancy team collecting water samples.  The opportunity to get out of the office and broaden my knowledge and understanding of the company and service offering has been fantastic.

The company has managed to stay fully operational during the Pandemic, what practices have been put in place to ensure that this has been possible?

The fact that REDS Group hasn’t had a single case of Covid19 since I started is a real testament to the entire team following the rules and guidelines.

Office based staff, myself included, have spent a lot of time working remotely and where possible operatives have avoided vehicle sharing.  If any of our site team have to share vehicles, or are working within close proximity of each other in an enclosed space, masks and gloves are worn.

The offices now have partitions on the desks and up until recently we have kept a maximum of two people in the office at any one time.  If we had to have more in the office, then masks would be worn, and everyone has been cleaning down their workstations before starting work and before leaving for the day.

When booking hotels, I ensure that all the team staying away from home have disinfectant sprays and wipes to give their rooms a clean on arrival and would never request that they share with another team member.

Social distancing and PPE are top priority for both our site and office teams.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy the variety of jobs and the opportunities they each bring for me to learn something new.

I also enjoy watching the progress of a Spill job from the start all the way through to completion, going from the initial response stage to finally demobilising from a site and reporting on the findings.

I love that my role within REDS is ever changing and growing, I am excited at what the future has in store!

What do you believe the biggest challenges are within your role?

As part of the Duty Manager team, I often have to call our responding engineers in the middle of the night, when they are on their way home after a week away from their families or during the weekends.  Asking them to leave to respond to an emergency is never fun, however, I am always met with the REDS can do attitude.

What are your go to resources, software or tools that aid your efficiency?

I have my core IT programs I use daily; I was given an Excel based resource planner when I started which is my diary for all jobs and engineer’s whereabouts.  This is permanently open on my desktop as I update it constantly, moving jobs and engineers around depending on schedule changes.

I also use internet resources like the NHS Directory and What Three Words to help build Method Statements and Risk assessments for Jobs.

Eworks is an absolute game changer and makes administrative work so streamlined.  I wish I had found it years ago!

What is it about REDS Group that you enjoy most?

Without hesitation the team are the best thing about REDS Group.  Everyone brings something unique to the business which enriches it.

The support and dedication the team have for each other is second to none.  If someone needs help the entire team is behind them supporting them.

I have found that no question is ever too stupid, they all know that there is still a vast amount of information I need to learn but no one is ever too busy to stop and explain something to me.

Within the last year I feel extremely lucky to have made some fantastic friends at REDS.  Some of the team I haven’t even met in person yet, but we are still able to pick up the phone and talk as if we have known each other for years.

When you’re not working how do you spend your time?

Life is no less busy at home for me. My husband and I have three Duracell bunny children who constantly keep us on the go!

Our free time is spent at the beach or in the woods trying to exhaust them.  When we do get time for ourselves, we enjoy live gigs, festivals and comedy events – which hopefully we will be able to attend again soon.

When I get a rare moment to myself it is normally spent blasting out some heavy metal whilst doing the housework or bingeing on a true crime podcast.

Date Posted: 25/06/2021