A nurturing environment

Smiths Detection culture enables staff to flourish and develop

After a couple of years in Australia, Alice Konin arrived back in her native France with plans to open restaurants focusing on healthy food. Unfortunately, five years later, life intervened and she had to call it a day on this venture – leaving Alice without a job and single parent to a two-year-old daughter. She decided to put her Master’s Degree in International Trade to good use and apply for a job in sales administration at Smiths Detection – ten years on, she has never looked back.

“My interview went so well, I was offered the sales admin job on the spot. However, I certainly didn’t imagine I would be with the company for so many years. But the time has just flown. Every day brings something new and exciting so I am never bored. Now I understand why so many people stay for 10, 15 or even 20+ years.”

One of Alice’s first tasks was to familiarise herself with SAP and gradually, she also started helping colleagues get to grips with the software. As a result, she was asked to set up training initiatives to promote current and new Global SAP best practices designed to improve consistency and end user engagement. This involved training colleagues across France, Germany, UK, USA and the APAC region.

COVID travel restrictions led to the introduction of more digital and e-learning solutions and in 2021, Alice joined the new Global Training Service Team. Since then, she has moved into a Digital Training Consultant role and achieved a Green Belt in Six Sigma improvement methodology. She is based in Vitry, France.

A sense of belonging and value

“I’ve always felt recognised and valued at Smiths Detection and that is a great feeling. This is a very positive environment and a ‘human’ company which makes you feel you really belong. The people are everything – always ready to help you develop. I was also delighted to be asked to join a panel in celebration of Black History Month, led by the Black Employee Network. This is another chance to give something back, open minds and support others.”

The Black Employee Network is one of the company’s Employee Resource Group initiatives and was set up to provide advice and support – a place where people with a common cause can share experiences. The aim is also to stimulate debate, spread awareness and encourage change. The Network drives a range of activities designed to promote inclusion and representation throughout the business.

“In general, things are improving in terms of bias and misconception and a lot has also changed in terms of gender inclusion with more women in senior positions. There are definitely more opportunities for us to grow since I first started in the corporate world and I’m looking forward to seeing that continue for new generations of women joining us at Smiths Detection.”

For working mothers, the life/work balance is always difficult and once again, Alice has found managers supportive over the years. “My life is always complicated and with children there is no room for improvisation! If my daughter needs collecting at a certain time, that can’t be changed. So I am grateful for Smiths Detection’s adaptability and positive attitude to well-being and a healthy  balance. Flexible hours and working from home have made a significant difference.”

Challenging and rewarding

Alice faced one of her biggest challenges when Smiths Detection acquired another company and over 200 people had to be trained on SAP. Preparation began a year ahead to ensure all training was fully documented. She spent a month out in San Francisco completing a very intense training programme.

“The most rewarding aspect of my job is building bridges with people and delivering help where and when it’s needed. Bonding with colleagues and ensuring they know they are not alone and there is always someone there to assist.”

In the short term, Alice’s main goal is to keep developing digital material and strong, efficient training solutions. She is also keen to complete the transition to fully digital training. And in the long term? “I didn’t think I would stay this long but there is always something new to keep me interested and it’s great to evolve with the company – so who knows where this path could lead. I always follow opportunities when they arise and within Smiths Detection and the broader Smiths Group, there are endless possibilities….”