Sandra Young has been Ground and Water’s HR Manager (that’s manager, not guru, she doesn’t like it when we call her that) for quite some time, and has had as big an impact as anyone when it comes to growing the team and maintaining the culture which we all benefit from. Alas, it is time for Sandra to spread her wings, but we couldn’t be happier for her continued development, or more grateful for the enormous contribution she has made to our team, and its individual members, during her time here. Before she leaves us, we asked Sandra to share some thoughts and feelings in a blog, which you can read below, along with a few pictures of team events she’s played a part in:
Leaving a company is always strange, isn’t it? Bittersweet: excited for what awaits you yet bereft at what you leave behind.
I have been with Ground & Water for five years, and what a five years they have been! During that time, I’ve been involved in pretty much every aspect of G&W and how they operate, and for the past couple of years have been fortunate enough to sit on the Leadership Team, so not only have I been involved in the day-to-day side but have been an active part of the strategic decision-making process, helping shape the company and its people.
I don’t fully know how I feel about leaving at this point, I’ll refer you to my opening statement! I am one of the lucky people that can truly say they love their job, but what makes a job? Is it what you are doing or is it who you are doing it with? Do I love what I do, or do I love who I do it alongside? I expect it is a healthy mix of the two. I remember reading somewhere that you can gauge the joy of a company by how much people laugh and by that token G&W are off the scale, I will miss the fun and camaraderie the most, I think. I leave behind an incredible group of people and if I find a team even approaching the one at G&W, I will feel very fortunate indeed. I have always said there is something unique about the team here, this is mirrored in every interaction and the feedback received. One of the questions asked during the onboarding check in is ‘what’s been the biggest surprise at G&W’ and the answer steadfastly remains the same, it’s the team. Similarly, during exit interviews when asked ‘the best thing about G&W’, it’s the team.
That’s not to say it’s not been tough; it’s been hard work, each of us give so much of ourselves at G&W and I think that’s what sets it apart. I owe G&W a lot, it has afforded me opportunities and responsibilities that I simply would never have been given elsewhere so early on in my HR career. That’s the great thing about G&W, they believe in nurturing homegrown talent and while the learning curves have been steep, they have been incredibly rewarding and I have been lucky enough to do it with the most supportive team around me. There is something about G&W; you don’t just work at G&W, you feel you are a part of something bigger, encouraged to put forward your thoughts and opinions and to have those suggestions genuinely listened to and acted upon when adopting new processes is not something that happens in every organisation.
Creating an environment where teams are happy, productive, and fulfilled can be challenging and we have made mistakes, we are only human after all but again, that’s where G&W thrives; mistakes are learned from and acted upon so that continuous improvement and evolvement is a constant. The team really is at the heart of everything G&W is about, I’ve never worked for a company that invests so much in their team’s cohesion – building on those relationships both inside and outside of the workplace, the social aspect is almost as important to G&W as the work itself, more so since adopting a hybrid way of working. Whilst Zoom and Teams are fantastic communication tools, I can’t help but feel that that face to face is vital for relationship building and inspiring creativity.
Of course, the ironic thing about a company culture that fosters curiosity and growth, while championing the absence of a comfort zone means that at some point people will be curious to experience new environments, to spread their wings and explore other opportunities. Which is exactly where I have found myself, while I have loved being a part of the team at G&W, it is time to gain further experience. Experience that only moving companies, industries and environments can bring, so I have made the difficult decision to move on. I recognise I am getting comfortable where I am, and I reason that that likely means it is time for a change.
I’ve always said there is no ‘busy’ like G&W busy, and there is no ‘time’ like G&W time; it literally flies and everyone who has joined the team has said the same and while I reflect on my last five years with the company I am amazed at how quick that time has gone, yet marvel on just how much has been achieved throughout those years, personally, professionally and by the company as a whole. G&W has grown three-fold within those five years, and while I may not be around to help the company and its team grow further, I will follow their progress and champion their efforts, proud that I was a part of the team.