International Women’s Day 2023: an interview with Sharon Duncan, Operations Director

8 Mar 2023 | Icon Move, Our people

To celebrate the work of women and discuss this year’s theme of #EmbraceEquity on International Women’s Day 2023, we interviewed Icon Move’s operations director, Sharon Duncan.

What is your role at Icon?

I am the operations director for Icon Move. My role is to look after Icon Move, the removals division of Icon Relocation. I oversee the services we provide, our work with partners, look after our team of move managers and, overall, ensure the correct processes are followed so we provide excellent service to our clients. I love this industry, my role and I am passionate about high-level customer service, what that looks like and how we, as a team, achieve it. The ‘why’ is incredibly important.

How did you get into the removals industry?

I started in the removals industry in South Africa when I was 18. Shortly after I left school, my sister set me up an interview at a removals firm. At the time, I was young and didn’t want to start working quite so soon. I was still in bed, and actually almost missed the interview, but my sister managed to persuade me to go. I got the job, and thus began my career. I do sometimes wonder where I would be now if my sister hadn’t gotten me that interview or encouraged me to attend — in some ways, I owe my career to her.

How has gender influenced your experience of the industry?

While completing my O licence, I sat in a classroom and looked around. I was the only woman in the whole room. Looking back, it is surreal to think that, but at the time it was the norm. There were certain areas of the industry that were, and some still are, very male-dominated. Everyone in senior positions was male and there were certain tasks that women were typically never asked to do, such as vehicle maintenance and some warehouse procedures. It’s quite a different experience in the industry now and it’s amazing how far women have come.

How have your mentors supported you throughout your career?

I am incredibly fortunate to have never felt that being a woman has affected my career in the way I know many other women experience. This is perhaps down to the fact that I have been blessed with some fantastic mentors throughout my career. The best mentors I had never made me feel like I was being managed but, instead, being led and supported to be the best I could be. I do my best to take that into my current management role, always aiming to sit behind people and lead from the back so that they can be in front.

However, it’s not just my mentors who have influenced my path. When I started out, I was very strongminded and inflexible — as young people tend to be — I had my ideas and wanted to do things my way. Yet, the more people that came into my life, the more I saw how other people’s personal issues shaped their lives and influenced their decisions. I have met so many people in different circumstances. You may not always know why someone is moving — I have moved individuals in some very difficult situations, and some of these cases have stuck with me and influenced the way I work now. Listening and understanding others’ situations is key to everyone’s success.

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #EmbraceEquity. What does that mean to you and how has the concept of equity shaped your career?

It is essential to ask questions, have a flexible approach, be adaptive, check in and listen to ensure they are being given the correct tools for what they need to thrive. The success of my team is my success.

Not everyone has the same circumstances or the same way of working. In fact, I can confidently say that every single person I have worked with has had a slightly different way of working. As with every job, there are fundamentals and set processes to follow to ensure the provision of excellent services, but everyone achieves these slightly differently. For example, when training a new starter, some work better with someone sitting behind them to guide them, while others will be more successful being given a process flow to follow. It is essential to ask questions, check in and listen to ensure they are being given the correct tools for what they need to thrive.

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