Profile interview: Tom Woollacott, strategic account manager, water frameworks.

Profile interview: Tom Woollacott, strategic account manager, water frameworks.

At BGEN, no two roles are the same, so we are talking to colleagues across the organisation and asking them five questions to get insight and understanding of their journey here and how they fit into the company.

Tom works in our technology division, as a strategic account manager with one of our largest water framework clients. Tom lives in Warrington and in his spare time enjoys playing golf and spending time with family.

Can you tell us a little about your background and the path that has led you here?

In 2005 at the age of 16 I began my career at BGEN, it started as a summer placement on the shop floor in the manufacturing facility. My plan at the time was to go back to sixth form and study economics, business, and psychology, but after six weeks spending time with various supervisors and engineers and seeing everyone’s passion for the business, I didn’t want to leave!  

I got onto an advanced modern apprenticeship, and then over the next few years, moved into the design office, completed my HNC, and then I did a foundation degree in electrical and electronic engineering at Manchester Metropolitan University.

To gain an understanding for other parts of the technology business, I moved to the estimating department and started networking, building relationships with clients and our supply chain. I was thriving in this more customer and client interfacing environment. In 2014, I was promoted to Account Management and for seven years I have been working with some of our key water clients, particularly Severn Trent. Due to my experience with this client, I recently successfully led our AMP7 Severn Trent framework bid which is a 5-year framework running until 2026 with options to extend up until 2029. To align with the proposal that we put forward as part of our framework bid, I have recently been promoted to the role of strategic account manager.

In my new role, I will be able to manage the framework requirements both strategically and operationally, making sure that all parts of the framework and the account managers are completely aligned, so we can deliver for our clients and their stakeholders.

I’ve been very fortunate to work for some fantastic leaders within the technology department who have really advocated for me and inspired me, shaping my development to where I am today.

Can you describe your average day?

I’m a very early riser, as I like to miss the M6 traffic! I live in Warrington but travel most days to the Midlands, spreading my time around our offices in Stafford and Derby and multiple customer sites and offices in the Severn Trent Region.

My workday could include carrying out feasibility studies and design work, meeting with different members of the site teams, providing technical quotations, managing projects or attending framework meetings and leadership forums.

Since water is an essential part of infrastructure, nothing stopped during the pandemic. It was all systems go for my client – in fact – probably more so, with everyone washing their hands so often! The intensity of my travel and visits therefore has not dropped, but it has been nice recently to attend meetings and forums face to face for the first time.

Key account managers tend to do a bit of everything. Most of my role is relationship management, but it’s also about chipping in where I can to help. I will do feasibility work, work on proposals and also attend meetings to offer support and escalations on behalf of my team.

When I’m at the local office or at home I’m catching up on my admin and meeting with my direct reports. There are a couple of direct reports that I am mentoring so I think it’s important to be visible to them so they know they can get the help and support they need as and when required.

Has anything surprised you?

I’ve been at BGEN for all of my working life and I’m sure this is probably the case in many organisations but I’ve been really pleasantly surprised to see the huge team effort that’s taken place to keep things moving forward especially during the really busy periods over the last few years and during the pandemic.

I think we should take more time to take a step back and appreciate what we are achieving as a collective. The dedication and hard work of our teams makes me really proud to work for BGEN, the work we do plays a key role in helping our clients deliver their outputs.

What advice would you give to someone setting out in their career?

I would say work hard but smart, be patient and don’t be afraid of making mistakes, this is how we learn.

There is no substitute for hard work but with patience you will gain the experience needed and you will progress naturally and at a good healthy pace if you allow yourself space and time.

In a more digital world, we need to make sure we work smart. For example, I try to allocate myself time specifically for responding to emails either at the start or end of the day. I find too often that I am multitasking and don’t even realise it because of technology notifications.

 And finally, what do you see as your biggest challenge?

I recently attend a forum discussing how the pandemic has rapidly accelerated digitalisation, some of the discussions shocked me around how dependent our clients are going to be on the supply chain to meet their digitalisation and sustainability targets.

We need to make sure we are prepared for this. As a company I think we are in a good position to support our clients. We already have all the capabilities and the great people to take on the challenge we are setting ourselves as a company as well as our clients targets. I want BGEN to be leading the way in our sectors on digitalisation and innovation to support sustainability.

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