Katie Harwood - Hire Controller
Hi Katie, how long have you worked at SHB for?
I’ve been working at SHB now for over 7 years. In fact the 1st of March was my 7th anniversary. It’s certainly been a quick 7 years in a fast paced business which is definitely a good thing!
What is it like working in a male orientated industry?
There is clearly a large deficit in the number of women working in the vehicle hire industry compared to men; however I believe that this is more down to choice rather than opportunities available. It doesn’t affect me in my day to day role and I believe that there is the opportunity for me to progress at SHB just as much as there is for my male colleagues. Sometimes I find that a customer will appear to be surprised that I have a good knowledge of vehicles but I like to think of that as a positive thing!
Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m 26 years old and from Southampton which is where I live. I enjoy shopping, fashion and travelling as well as experiencing new cultures. I like to keep myself busy during my spare time so I rarely stay in… living on the South Coast certainly has its benefits especially in the summer.
What does your role at SHB entail?
I work at SHB’s Head Office in Romsey as a Hire Controller. My responsibilities include processing bookings from the very early enquiry stage through to sourcing a vehicle and allocating it onto the system. Enquiries are taken via a number of methods including telephone and email. As part of my role I also work on large national accounts which means processing hires from major customers which are often based around contractual obligations such as lead times, vehicle types and specifications.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy working closely with customers both new and existing, gaining an understanding of their requirements and often using my knowledge and experience to advise on things such as spec suitability and O license requirements. Another satisfying element of my role is having the opportunity to build strong relationships with customers and seeing an initial enquiry right through to the final process of them receiving the vehicle. My role is very fast paced particularly when it snows! But that’s certainly not a negative thing.
What are your aspirations for the future?
I’d like to progress within SHB and to continually improve upon my knowledge of vehicles and legislation. Luckily for me these two things can change rapidly making it a formality to keep up!
Would you recommend a career in the vehicle hire industry to other women?
Yes, absolutely. I would say that the opportunities are there for all to see and the environment can be very challenging but also satisfying. The vehicle hire industry is continually changing and I believe that with more women getting involved we can have a real impact and play a major role on the future of vehicle hire, safety and legislation. SHB has a large number of Women in senior roles including on the Board of Directors so for me it is certainly possible to progress and hold a role at the very highest level in the business.