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(Whispers.) I don’t know why you want to interview me. I’m boring!

(Whispers back.) Everyone always says that. They’re usually wrong.

I’m not sure I believe you! (Laughs.)

So let’s start. When you left school, was a job in quality the kind you had in mind?

Not exactly. When I left school, I wanted to get a job before starting college. So, I applied for all these jobs and in each interview I got that dreaded question: “Do you have at least two years’ experience?” And of course I didn’t – I was 16! I always meant to go to college, but by then I was thinking, “Why waste two or three more years in school?” So, I decided to do a level 2 apprenticeship in Business Administration. I really liked my Business Studies lessons at school and thought an apprenticeship would be a great way to develop that area.

If you hadn’t done the Business Administration apprenticeship, what do you think you would’ve gone into?

Maybe massage therapy. I’m really interested in how massage impacts the body and mind in a natural way. Plus, I could’ve used it to start my own business.

What happened next?

When I completed that apprenticeship, I did a level 3 apprenticeship at a document scanning company. They did document digitisation for the NHS and the police. Every day, we’d receive boxes and boxes of patient files or police reports and we had to digitise them.

It doesn’t sound like much but it was a big challenge. Dealing with patient files is enough responsibility as it is, but when you’re dealing with thousands, that’s something else! Sometimes there would be emergency requests with someone sat in A&E. We’d have their file, so we had to find it, inventory it, scan it and get it back to the trust within 4 hours.

Eventually, there was an opening for a Quality Control Team Leader and I took it. By 17, l was managing my own team, making sure they hit their targets, writing reports on quality and finding out if people needed training.

You can imagine the responsibility, especially when you have the NHS as a client. If you’re preparing doctor notes and one part of the page is smudged or blurry or folded over, the trust would ask for them to be redone. And that might delay a diagnosis or some other important decision.

How long did you have that job?

I was there until I was 21. Then the company moved to Nottingham. I was quite young and I didn’t want to move away from my family. So, I found a job in telemarketing. At first I thought, “God Sophie, you’re not doing cold calling.” But then I thought, “You know what, I am going to do cold calling. Just go for it.”

I ended up being the number one seller in my office. Some calls would begin with customers cursing down the receiver, but by the end they were thanking me. That’s what you need in sales and marketing: to turn it around.

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I always admire people who are able to do that.

You have to believe that the service you’re promoting is just fantastic. That’s why I always started every call by saying, “Hi, this is Sophie. I’ve got some good news for you.”

Eventually, though, saying, “Hi, my name is Sophie” every day got tiring. Once you master the process, there’s only so much you can learn. For a time, I was totally ready to carry on with sales because the money was just oh my god. But I wanted to keep my team leader and quality experience alive. It was one or the other. So, here I am at TQUK.

Was it difficult going from a team leader to a team member?

It depends on the type of person you are. There are some team leaders who I just couldn’t see going back to being a team member. They get used to being in charge. But it wasn’t like that for me. I can do both.

You’ve been in quality for a few years. What about it do you like? Is there anything about quality that appeals to your personality?

I like the attention to detail, looking at what we do and thinking of ways to improve it. Or just resolving things like complaints and that. Quality has to work with other parts of the company to get those things done. I like that.

I feel like if I were in your position and I had to pass judgement on the quality of something, I’d be very judgemental. And probably not very fair, either.

It’s good you’re not in quality, then! (Laughs.)

Do you think you’ll be in Manchester for a long time?

I don’t know. Depends if my family ever moves away.

You’d go wherever your family goes?

Yup.

So if your family moved to, say, The Falkland Islands, would you go with them?

Probably, yeah. Because where else would I go?

See? You’re way more interesting than you thought.

Huh!