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International Women’s Day 2024 with PACK & SEND service centre manager, Kholbie Jones

Wednesday, 06 March 2024

International Women’s Day has been celebrated around the world since 1911. Held on 8th March each year, it hails the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and calls for the acceleration of women’s equality.

To mark International Women’s Day this year we talked to Kholbie Jones. By the time she joined the PACK & SEND group in November 2021, Kholbie had already established a successful career in retail management.

Now, at just 26 years old, she is centre manager at PACK & SEND Reading, with a staff of four. Kholbie’s career in retail started while she was still at school and took a weekend job at Clarks, the footwear retailer, at the age of 16. As her academic studies progressed, she weighed up the option of continuing with her job or going to university, deciding to stay in the retail sector.

“I thought it would be a great opportunity to throw myself in and learn some key skills,” she says. “I still think it was the right decision.”

Once she left the sixth form, Kholbie progressed into an assistant manager’s role and by the age of 20 she had become a manager, with a team of 10-15 people.

“During my Clarks career I ran several different stores and in my final role I managed one of the brand’s top 20 stores.”

New challenge

The move to PACK & SEND came because she felt ready for a new challenge.

“I had been at Clarks for eight years, benefited from management training that helped me progress my career and gained a lot of experience and skills. However, I felt a change of environment would be a good thing and I wanted to expand my skill set elsewhere.”

Kholbie started at PACK & SEND in November 2021 as an administrative assistant and by August 2022, less than nine months later, she was promoted to assistant manager, going on to become service centre manager in January 2024.

The PACK & SEND centre at Reading is a company-owned store, as opposed to a franchise.

“Working for a corporate-owned service centre that works directly with head office meant

I was able to gain more understanding of how businesses work and about the day-to-day running of the organisation,” explains Kholbie.

“This is so interesting from my point of view. I’ve had the chance to meet and work with all sorts of people throughout the business, including senior management. I’ve helped train new franchisees and worked closely with other departments such as marketing and the accounts team, to get an overview of the organisation. And now we are part of a huge corporation it opens up a world of opportunities. There are so many roles I can apply for in the future.”

Every day is different Kholbie enjoys her job because, she says,

“Every day is different. We have the unique opportunity to pack and ship items that I would never have come across before, from taxidermy to antiques and high-value artwork such as Banksy prints. I also really enjoy customer service. Providing an end-to-end solution for our customers and seeing the whole job through, from the point of initial enquiry to the final delivery, is a great feeling.”

She finds the job very rewarding.

“Our customers are reunited with items bequeathed from their loved ones, or we can help make their household move a lot less stressful by packing and shipping their belongings. We hear fascinating stories about where the things have come from, where they have travelled or what customers plan to do with them.

“We don’t just pack and ship, either. We also take care of everything, whether that’s permits or licences, customs documents or handling items that are seen by carriers as more contentious. This means everyone who works here needs to retain a lot of  information and pick it up quickly.”

Working with a diverse customer base is also inspiring. Kholbie might be dealing with artists, galleries, auction houses, taxidermy collectors and antiques dealers as well as the general public.

“We are always looking to expand our customer base, too. I regularly go out to different areas and talk with local businesses about the services we offer and how we can assist them. We would like to explore more of the B2B market within certain target verticals such as medical equipment suppliers and IT companies.”

Navigating bias

While Kholbie believes she has always been given equal opportunities in the workplace and has not been discriminated against because she is a woman, there have been instances where people’s unconscious bias has been evident – both in terms of her age and the fact that she is a woman.

“I do think women have to deal with a lot of unconscious bias and sexism in the workplace. I have experienced stereotyping – for example, where people assume I’m a receptionist, or when we receive deliveries and the driver thinks that I won’t be able to help load or unload goods.

“My team and I have visited trade sites and warehouses where the staff haven’t spoken to any of the females and have only directed questions at the men. There can also be assumptions about your capabilities in the role. When I was dealing with customer complaints at Clarks, I was not always taken seriously and once or twice people even asked if they could talk to another member of staff – in other words a male, or someone older.”

Anything is possible

It’s clear that someone with Kholbie’s enthusiasm, confidence and determination will never be constrained by stereotyping, and her advice to other women who want to make a success of their careers is to take opportunities when they come along.

“Anything is possible. I think owning your success as a woman motivates you to work harder and achieve more in your business, and confidence is an essential part of prosperity and growth.”


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