The importance of innovation and company culture – Why I left and came back in one week.

I’m Alice, I oversee the office and marketing coordination at J B Cole. If you didn’t already know, I left to start a new job, for a week… And then came back!

A bit about me

I originally come from Blackpool, Lancashire. I moved to Manchester around 4 years ago to pursue a degree in marketing management and I ended up staying because I loved the city!

I recently graduated with a first class degree and somehow fell into technology marketing.

I wanted to write this article to tell you all about the importance of innovation, company culture, and how it can help you retain staff, improve team happiness and keep hold of those good ol’ millennials.

Joining the team

I applied to J B Cole in May 2017 after I came across the job advert online for a “Marketing Assistant” position. I hadn’t ever considered working in technology – or even knew much about websites, technology or anything else in the process.

Fast forward a few weeks and I found myself being offered the job by Josh, our CEO for what I have been told was my ambition and personality (it certainly wasn’t my knowledge of websites).

I knew at that point that I wanted the job. The passion the team had for what they did and the mixture of people within the office was something that I really wanted within my next role.

Plus, I can’t live without my phone or laptop so technology was something I wanted to get involved with.

So here we are, 2 years on, one promotion and one notice later and I’m still here… Well, I’m back.

The work / third-year uni balance

I was just about to go into my third year of uni when I joined J B Cole. Possibly one of the most pressured and stressful times in someone’s life. It wasn’t easy, but I thought ‘why not take on another challenge’!

Yes, staying up until 5am writing university essays then going to work in the morning was difficult at times. However the support I had from the company was second to none and definitely one of the reasons I think I got a first in marketing management.

Being able to request time off or flexible working around my exams and submissions was integral to my degree success. Being able to work from home two days a week also helped ease the immense pressure I was under.

I had time to myself, to do things my own way and at my own pace.

I also learnt the practical and real-life application of most of the things I was learning a uni. It’s all very well and good reading out of a book about digital marketing, but actually doing it, reflecting on it and being able to talk about it has a huge advantage when it comes to earning yourself a few extra marks in exams and assignments.

Flying the nest

Eventually, after a great year and a half working at J B Cole I decided it was time for a change. Nothing was wrong, the team were still great and growing, but it all came down to the question of whether technology was really for me?

As J B Cole was my first “adult job” I felt maybe it was time to try something new, maybe I’d be better going back to the hospitality sector that I’d always been in?

In the end, after a teary goodbye, several pints at a leaving do and a “you can come back if you want” from our CEO Josh, I left J B Cole and started my new job within the events sector.

And, hated it.

Time to reflect

The importance of the right technology

I’d like to start by saying that this is no reflection on the company I went to. I really appreciated the opportunity, it just wasn’t right for me.

One thing that became immediately obvious was the lack of technology. On the first day I noticed the company using archaic methods to do simple everyday tasks – Microsoft Office might be some people’s cup of tea, but it sure wasn’t mine.

I didn’t understand why the team wouldn’t work collaboratively on a Google Doc rather than sending things back and forth five times in one day. Or why they couldn’t jump on Slack to get a quick answer from people when they were out of office, rather than waiting for replies on email. Even down to using CharlieHR instead of paper-pushing to get a response on a holiday request.

All of these simple processes that we take for granted at J B Cole took longer, more people involved and effectively cost more money.

After working for a company so advanced in their processes, it became very frustrating very quickly, to have to go backwards and adopt a Neo-Luddism attitude as a millenial.

Suddenly the question of ‘to tech, or not to tech’, became very apparent that I realised that I loved the sector I was in. Technology.

The importance of diversity

One thing I had noticed was the lack of diversity, within the team. It was 85% Caucasian women which is predictable of a sector like events and hospitality. I missed the diversity. I missed hearing about people from different backgrounds, different countries, different experiences and upbringings and having a chat with both men and women on a day to day basis.

Diversity creates a strong culture as well as provides interesting conversation, unique opinions and viewpoint. It’s something I think J B Cole do effortlessly and brilliantly.

Missing the city

I quickly realised how much I missed the hum of the city, and remembered why I’d moved away from sleepy villages with very little going on.

Being able to work in a collaborative space with another company, like what J B Cole do became very daunting that I’d see a limited number of people everyday, and most likely talk about the same things everyday.

When people share workspaces it opens conversation and helps refresh you. To have lots of different conversations everyday and hear about projects other than the ones your team are working on is a really interesting part of our working setup.

I also missed being able to pop to the shops on my lunch, spending my wages on a pair of shoes I didn’t need, or meeting my boyfriend  so I could spend a bit more time with him.

Believing in the goal

When moving to my new job I didn’t realise the importance of believing in the product you’re selling.

As a marketeer, it can become boring and stressful very quickly when you don’t believe in the product or service that you’re trying to sell.

Of course I was new. I couldn’t shout out “This product you’ve been working on for years just isn’t going to work”. Also, what do I know, I’m just a 21 year old?

However, this is when I realised the importance of the business goals and believing in the company. Having the faith that a product you’re selling is going to take off, and grow is integral to your happiness in your role.

The importance of an open mind

I was quite lucky to have a boss at J B Cole that let me try and test new ideas, even if they may have seemed ridiculous at the time. My thoughts and opinions were always valued and innovation and original ideas were taken on with a stride.

My creativity wasn’t suppressed, I was allowed to have my own mind, something of which proved very important, as I soon realised I am quite the ambitious, strong-minded woman.

The perks of J B Cole

I was always told “the grass isn’t always greener” and I very quickly realised that after moving to a new job. During this time, I have reflected on what really drove me to come back.

So what are the perks here? Because in this day and age, salary alone isn’t enough, we want more.

Remote working days

Being able to work from home is attractive to most people, do we really want to trek into offices 5 days a week, in the wind and the rain and the snow and ice?

No, I know I’d much rather be at home, cook a nice tea on my dinner break, and not have to leave the house.

The technology

J B Cole have everything under the sun to make your life easier. Do you need something to make processing receipts and expenses easier, we have it. Do you forget your passwords all the time and need a secure bank for them, we have it. Are you sick of using pen and paper to plan your day, we have a solution where you’ll never lose your daily tasks again.

Overall, the different tools they have cut the time down  most of our time faffing about doing. So we can actually get on with the important things, the work.

Leadership style

As I said before, we work from home three days a week. So YOU plan your day, long gone are those bosses breathing down your neck watching your every move. Your day is in your hands, do things how you want without being scrutinised.

Don’t get me wrong we have deadlines yes, but micromanaging isn’t the way Josh and Ollie like to do things.

Creative freedom

We’re allowed to have our say, give our creative input and it actually be taken onboard and used in projects. We’ve all worked for people where we’re told “yeah yeah yeah” and then ignored. Whereas J B Cole do things differently,  if you have an idea, 90% of the time the bosses will run with it.

And who doesn’t’ like for their ideas to be used?

The key takeaways

If you take anything away from this blog, it is that company culture and innovation is what will keep your staff coming back and keep your brand known within these crowded industries. (This is coming from experience.)

It’s great having a huge paycheck and flashy suits, but when you can’t work from home and have time with your family. Is it worth it? Going to work but not being listened to and your opinion always being knocked back, is it really worth it?

If you find good company culture, where you truly believe you matter, then that is the most important thing.

Working for a company that is forward thinking and innovative can help you in terms of professional development and enable you to find quicker and more straightforward ways to do things in your own life.  

Don’t forget to connect with me on Linkedin and Twitter!

If you’re ready to finally cross to the greener grass, send your cv to