We talk to Alys Blowes, one of our long-serving team members who is a Supervisor in our Accounts Department. She explains what makes PFE such a special place to work and how her family’s strong work ethic has shaped her approach to her career.
Number of years in the industry?
It will be 20 years in August this year.
What’s your journey been getting to PFE?
I was in college, reaching the end of my first year of A-levels, feeling like I was studying just for the sake of it with no clear career direction. Because I didn’t have an idea of what I wanted to do post-college, I decided that office experience would be more valuable than an unrelated A-level. So, during a lunch break, I visited the local job centre, found two jobs advertised at PFE, and applied. I interviewed for a LCL transport clerk role on a Friday and started the job on Monday!
I spent six years in the LCL Department handling transport notes. Then I decided that I wanted to learn something else, and I wanted a change. So, I moved over to Julia’s Department as part of the freight team. I was there for three years and thoroughly enjoyed it.
After 9 years, considering I’d been with PFE since age 17, I decided I should explore opportunities beyond PFE and see what other jobs were out there. After working elsewhere for four months, I realised the new company, while nice, wasn’t PFE. I emailed Dave Girling asking if something came up again, could I come back please? He promptly responded, I went in for a chat, handed in my notice the next day, returned to a role in the Accounts team, and have been here for 11 years now.
What does your role at PFE entail?
Since the beginning of this year, I’ve been promoted to the role of Accounts Team Supervisor. Essentially, I handle key accounts, ensuring their statements are accurate and providing regular reports. Looking ahead, my responsibilities will extend to supervising the Accounts Department and working closely with Simon Boulton, our Finance Director. I’m about to start immersing myself in Simon’s month-end processes. Right now, my main focus is understanding everyone’s role in the department, finding ways to enhance efficiency, and addressing the crucial aspect of holiday cover. The goal is to ensure a seamless transition during absences so that everyone’s work can be picked up, allowing members of the team to return and not feel like they’re catching up.
Celebrating my 20-year anniversary this year feels rewarding, and I appreciate the recognition of my new role in the team.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Having worked in various departments, I’ve found that Accounts is truly my niche. I appreciate the problem-solving aspect of the work and the tangible satisfaction of seeing the end results. During my time in credit control, up until my maternity leave, I enjoyed the autonomy of setting my collection targets. Witnessing the funds come in marked the completion of my task, and I found fulfilment in overseeing the process from start to finish. Working in Accounts, organisation is crucial, and I take pleasure in structuring my thoughts. Double-checking everything before sending it to the customer is a natural inclination for me; meticulousness is key. Identifying any discrepancies feels like solving a puzzle—a kind of investigative challenge that I genuinely enjoy.
I also really enjoy the social side of working at PFE. There are lots of opportunities to mix with people at the company’s events. The work parties are particularly fun. They’re a chance for everyone to let their hair down. While it’s natural for people to form friendships and spend time together outside of work, what I find especially nice is how PFE actively promotes and values building relationships beyond the office.
What makes PFE different from the rest?
Everyone says PFE has a family feel. That is what made PFE different from the other company that I briefly worked for. Here, people are more than just colleagues; they become a significant part of your life, you tend to spend more time at work than at home. I’ve practically grown up here – starting at 17, learning to drive, getting married, having children. The family atmosphere remains, even with the company’s significant growth over recent years. The ethos hasn’t changed; there’s always someone to talk to if you need anything. It’s been that way since the beginning, with the management team willing to help and even address non-work-related problems. Despite the company’s expansion, the friendliness remains, and everyone still values personal connections alongside professional ones. Everyone still wants to know about you as a person as well as your work.
Looking from a customer’s perspective, what makes PFE stand out is the expertise of our team. Unlike other companies where one person may handle a customer account from start to finish, at PFE, customers move through specialised departments. Each department has individuals who excel in their respective fields, be it deliveries or entries. This structure, rather than relying on individual strengths and weaknesses, allows departments to focus on their specific areas of expertise. It ensures a better service for customers as every department excels in what they do.
Our well-established system, followed by every department, works so well due to good communication. Everyone understands how their role impacts the next in the chain. By doing their part effectively and passing it on, there’s a seamless flow, demonstrating the importance of open communication at PFE, especially in our departmentalised approach. Because we talk to each other, everyone is professional in what they’re doing. We all work together to ensure the customer gets the best experience and service.
What are three words that describe PFE?
Do you have any future ambitions for PFE?
I want to settle into the Supervisor role, see how that develops, and where it takes me. Right now, I’m getting the hang of the whole team’s responsibilities and my priority for the immediate future is making sure our department is doing well and everyone has what they need.
I’m also curious to see where PFE is headed, considering how it’s grown over the years. I’m certain PFE has a very positive future, it will be interesting to see where we go.
Who was your childhood hero and why?
I never really had any heroes, but I’ve always looked up to my parents and my older brother. Their strong work ethic has been a real inspiration. Mum ran her own business, Dad has worked as a copy editor for nearly 60 years and is still working, and my brother works tirelessly on his own business. They’ve all set this high standard of hard work that I’ve tried to follow. What’s great is that they also know how to have fun. It’s not about work taking over their lives; they’ve shown me the importance of balancing hard work with enjoying life. Coming from a family of hard workers, it’s motivated me to put in the effort and see the results. Work is crucial, but when you’re home, family is family. That’s the balance they’ve instilled in me.
Having the twins definitely made work more complicated and it’s tough at times. The first year back after having them was especially challenging. But we’ve found a routine now, and while I absolutely love my time off with them, it’s also made me realise how much I enjoy coming to work. As they grow older, my hope is that they’ll pick up the same values my parents instilled in me. Being their role model, I’m teaching them that you get out what you put in, and hard work brings rewards.
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life what would it be?
Pasta, in any form. Growing up I loved my mum’s carbonara, I used to like helping to make it. Now it’s a family favourite in our household with the twins making it with me. We also enjoy other pasta dishes like tuna pasta, spaghetti bolognese, or pesto pasta. You can’t beat pasta!
What’s your favourite movie?
My all-time favourite movie would have to be ‘Home Alone’. However, I’m also a huge fan of the Marvel films, especially the Avengers ones where all the different characters come together. I just love that crossover aspect, bringing characters from different films into one epic storyline. I think it’s the Fantasy genre that I like, and who doesn’t love a superhero? ‘Home Alone’ holds a special place in my heart; my brother and I used to watch it together as children. We would always quote the film to each other. We still do as adults! Even now it’s the film that I always have to sit and watch every Christmas.