Hannah Ratcliff shares her career story and development tips.

How I got started
After I gained my Journalism degree, I secured a role in a recruitment business, working with clients on their attraction strategies. Out of all the channels used, there was one that stood out to me – social media. Social media is all about community and relationship building, and I quickly realised this was the area I wanted to specialise in. It was at that point I joined NFU Mutual as a Social Media Adviser on a 12-month contract, supporting with the implementation of the social media strategy. Six years later and I’m very proud to now be leading the team and overseeing all things social media at NFU Mutual.

My role today
As the Social Media Manager, I head up a team of three. The role social media plays within the business has developed a lot over the years and I have loved being able to play a part in that. Our current strategy has been created with the wider market and our competitors in mind and is centred around the protection and enhancement of our brand reputation. The key components of the strategy are delivering customer value, building relationships and growing our online profile. We also work with the NFU Mutual Agency Network to help them bring the local personal service they offer to life on social media.

The focus we place on offering customer value means we’re always there for our customers when they need us – we monitor our channels 24/7, 365 days of the year. We always need to be available, even on Christmas day, just in case our customers need us.

My development path
I'm very lucky to have been given opportunities that led to two promotions in the time I've been here, going from a Level three to a Level five in six years. I've always been supported by the leadership team, and the learning and development I’ve received has been amazing. I champion this level of support with my team too, in terms of the opportunities we have, because we're so lucky to have them. There's a real focus on personal development and how we’re going to achieve our objectives. T hadn’t worked with a formal mentor before, but it’s happened quite naturally here, and I’ve always found our leaders to be generous with their time, including my own manager. After the support I received, I knew I wanted to give back and mentor others and am now part of the mentoring programme.

Taking the time to be ready
I completed a 12-month secondment in my current role before it was made permanent. I was able to use this time, working with my manger and going on courses around leadership development, to get ready for the role. We're all busy, but NFU Mutual sees development as a priority, which is a really positive message. It’s something I encourage and support in my team too. We never want to see good people leave through lack of development so it’s important, as it has been for me, that everyone is given the opportunity for personal development.

Investing in us, so we can invest in our customers
Customer focus is something that runs through everything we do. It's front of mind for everybody across the business. Our belief and culture in investing in our people through development ensures the best results for our customers. The access we have to development is brilliant, and I encourage my team to use it, whether that’s internal or external. In my area, social media brings us into close contact with our customers, we engage with them and help escalate or resolve queries as necessary.

A culture that develops leaders - not just women leaders
There’s a perception that the financial services sector can be quite male dominated, but here at NFU Mutual many of our senior leaders and role models are women. I just think the Mutual is good at developing leaders, full stop. For me, being a woman in finance hasn’t been a hindrance or advantage, I've been afforded excellent career development opportunities and will probably join the club of people who’ve been here a long time!

My tips for career development
Stakeholder relationships are so incredibly important, so build relationships and network with your peers and those at a more senior level to you. Create a Personal Development Plan, own it and drive it yourself. Speak to your manager about your plan. Work closely with them to reach your goals and let them connect you with areas of the business that might be helpful. Work with the learning and development team. Seize every opportunity you can. I’ve always found that people are extremely helpful here.

Hannah Ratcliff, Social Media Manager

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