Over the coming weeks and months, we will bring you stories of women across the workplace, continuing to shed light on the themes of International Women’s Day across the year until the next event in 2020.
This month, we caught up with Annalise Eldred, a Sales Executive at Lookers Ford. Annalise started with Ford in 2006 as the only female in a team of eight sales executives. Within three years she was topping the sales leagues with around 50 sales executives in total.
In 2017, Annalise was awarded Sales Executive of the Year at the Lookers Excellence Awards, an annual event which celebrates the achievements of Lookers’ people across the group.
Annalise has not only forged a successful career at Lookers, but a successful marriage, having met her husband, Peter, at Lookers 11 years ago. They celebrated their sixth wedding anniversary last month.
We caught up with Annalise to find out more about her experience working for Lookers.
Tell us a bit about your background and what led you to work at Lookers.
I completed a year at Bournemouth University reading Public Relations before realising it wasn’t the career path I wanted to take. I then went on to work at Nationwide Building Society for two years specialising in pensions. This made me realise that I loved working with people and led me to look at a customer-focussed role.
What attracted you to work at Lookers?
I wanted a new challenge and my Dad was a trained mechanic so I had always been around cars growing up. My sister also worked in the sales admin department and she loved her job.
Have you had any personal challenges which have impacted your work life and how have Lookers supported you with this?
I have had four house moves during my career and two of them renovations which has absorbed some of my time and energy. Lookers have been flexible with my hours occasionally when I have had to meet with tradespeople, which has enabled me to then concentrate more fully at work.
Do you feel that there are equal opportunities for men and women at Lookers?
I think there are equal opportunities but I still feel it is very male dominated in the sales team and management. I often find it frustrating that there are not more women in upper management as it is uninspiring for young women entering into the business.
I think it is such a fantastic career for everyone especially women and I love to see fellow girls doing brilliantly in sales. I do think it would be very difficult to have a family whilst completing this role as a female which is maybe why at 33 I still don’t have children.
Is there anything Lookers could do to make things even better for women in the workplace?
I think they could offer flexible ‘back to work’ schemes for those who decide to have a family, especially within sales as it is a very niche role. I have not seen one woman come back to work in sales after maternity and I put it down to flexibility.
I also still think there needs to be some education as some individuals still feel it is acceptable to objectify women and when I see this happening it is upsetting.
The theme for this year’s IWD was 'Balance for Better'. How do you think we could address a better gender balance across the workplace, not just at Lookers, but in a wider context?
I believe it all comes down to attitude, I feel that people should be considered on their merits as opposed to their gender. I think in a workplace and society we are all too quick to make judgements based on gender and it just needs to stop. I think making working environments fair for all genders will benefit business and society as a whole as the correct people will be in the correct roles.
Anything else you would like to add?
In my opinion more females should consider a role in sales. It is so satisfying to work hard and be rewarded for the effort you put in. You are responsible for your own little business and when it’s all ticking along there is nothing more rewarding.
To find out more about working at Lookers and browse some of our current vacancies, take a look at our careers page, here.