Meet John, our Operations Manager in the Member Support team, based in Bulgaria

👋 Hi John, great to chat to you today! Could you please introduce yourself in a sentence?

Hello everyone, my name is John and I’m an Operations Manager in Member Support. 

Tell us about what you were doing before Tide and how did you cross paths with us?

I have traveled by myself from a young age. I left Bulgaria when I was 14 and studied, and worked in a variety of places across the globe. I graduated from the United World College of the Adriatic in Italy. And shortly after obtained a scholarship to Westminster College in the US, where Winston Churchill’s Iron Curtain “Sinews of Peace” address was held. I studied Political Science, International Relations, and Psychology. 

Having had a vivid global experience I returned to Sofia, Bulgaria. I found Tide by accident after searching for a job in a start-up company where I could utilize my skills and command of English. 

You have been at Tide for two and a half years 🥳 What made you want to join the team?

I was really yearning to get that international feeling again and to work in a global environment. Working in a start-up can be a blessing, it’s very creative and it’s easier to change the status quo and implement new ideas or practices. I was ready for a new challenge and an opportunity to create something.

You seldom get this chance, particularly in Sofia, where most of the players are well-known establishments with little flexibility or room for initiative. Tide’s culture and values appealed to me. They often remind me of that old fashioned American dream – the spirit of entrepreneurship, innovation, and tenacity. 

In a nutshell, progression is about three things – not giving up, being reflective and curious, helping others and learning from them.

You have had a great journey at Tide and switched roles. Could you tell us more?

I started at Tide as a night shift agent for Member Support. I then had the opportunity to apply for a leadership position and became the first Team Lead in Sofia for Member Support. I’ve always had one major motivation when improving things in my department – to make our members’ journey easier, more effective, and more pleasant.

I have had a varied career before Tide, including working in the US, leading a team of forensic rehabilitation specialists in a prison/ mental institution. The environment was challenging and dangerous but I learned a lot about leadership and team-work. In Bulgaria, I worked for a company that was servicing Sky, solving customer broadband and technical problems. A lesson in customer service, empathy, and soft skills was instrumental to me in terms of dealing with clients from the UK. I also worked in a Bulgarian bank, as a corporate relations specialist. This experience taught me about traditional banks – what worked and what didn’t. 

What really helped me in my career in Tide was the ability to draw from my previous experiences and to capitalize on my learnings from each field. I was also always hungry to learn and to know more – asking many questions and trying to approach any problem from an analytical perspective. Furthermore, I had some wonderful colleagues, without whom I would have never reached where I am right now. 

In a nutshell, progression is about three things – not giving up, being reflective and curious, helping others and learning from them.

How would you explain your role to someone who isn’t familiar with your area?

In simple terms, my job is to look at Member Support holistically and to make sure that each part of the system is working well. 

This means that I review different areas within my department and map processes from beginning to end. I need to really understand the bigger picture, not just internally, but how Member Support ties in with the other business areas in Tide. 

When it comes to processes, I make sure that everything works smoothly from the point of contact between the member and our agent up until the resolution. This involves understanding customer feedback and driving it to specific areas for improvement and optimisation. 

I meet with a lot of people on a daily basis. The work is never done – there’s always something to improve or a work-flow that can be done better. The satisfaction for me comes from every happy member we have and from making the lives of those around me easier. At Tide, we strive to be one team – that’s not just words for me. 

What advice would you give someone who wants to switch careers or learn new skills?

Be confident in yourself and do not give up – as cliche as it sounds. This applies even more so when you actually get the position you have been striving for – it can be difficult at times because people can suffer from impostor syndrome. The reality though is that as with anything new, it takes time to acclimate and to really own the role. 

What’s your typical working day?

Every day is different. There are times where I will have an absolutely jam-packed day full of meetings – discussing various projects, understanding relationships between stakeholders, or keeping tabs on the progress of tasks. Other days, I work solo, absorbed in analysis and optimising processes, trying to figure out how to resolve an issue or improve a work-flow. 

At times, I read customer feedback or reviews, I look at day-to-day operations. It’s almost never the same. While challenging, I never have a dull or boring moment at work. 

Coffee is an essential ingredient for survival. Having a cat also helps, although it can be distracting at times. 

What’s your favourite Tide memory so far?

The things that mean the most to me are the smaller things, passionate conversation with colleagues after work on how to improve things, getting through a particularly difficult week can also feel really rewarding. Our pre-COVID Christmas party was a lot of fun, hopefully, the restrictions ease so that we get to all gather again the way we used to.

During the coronavirus outbreak, we Tideans have been working remotely. Have you learned anything interesting about yourself from working away from your team?

John shooting his bow.

Our lives have changed radically in some cases and we’ve overcome plenty of challenges – finding new approaches along the way. I think communication has become tricky as a result of the new practices. Without in person interaction, you miss out on tone, facial expressions, body language, and sometimes moods are harder to read. 

I’ve tried harder as a result to work on expressing myself more clearly and to not assume. Often it’s best to ask people what they mean and to clarify things. Having patience and empathy for others is also key. 

John with his amateur rock band at college

One last question before you go! What’s your hidden talent?

I try to dabble and become good at a multitude of things. I was a singer in an amateur rock band at college and I play guitar. I played paintball semi-professionally when I was younger. And I have also won a few official competitions in gaming. I’m interested in archery and a variety of other activities!

Valentine Hutchings

Valentine Hutchings

Head of Community and small business enthusiast

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