Rachel Rutherford – Fasten your seatbelt!!

#YesSheCan is delighted to bring you a Q&A with Rachel Rutherford, a Junior Buyer for Co-Op – and in her spare time takes part in IRONMAN races.

Can you tell us a bit about you and your career:

My name is Rachel Rutherford. I graduated from the University of Birmingham in 2016 with a first-class degree with honors, in Business Management. During my time at university, I also discovered my joy for riding a bike. Having also taken up running before university, I was on my way to becoming a triathlete, although I didn’t actually know it yet.

Before graduating I secured a job on the Rolls Royce graduate scheme. I was ecstatic, and this signaled a move to Derby. While I spent nearly 3 years at Rolls Royce, I felt like I didn’t fit in. There were a number of reasons for this, and I probably stayed longer than I should have. Rolls Royce pay their staff a very high salary, and it is very scary to let that go. However I knew the job wasn’t right for me and at the end of 2018 I entered the world of unemployment.

However I wasn’t without a plan and in February 2019 I started a personal training (PT) course. Life is all about discovery, and it was something I had always wanted to do. During this time, I also worked as a waitress at a local hotel to provide some income.

Following the PT course, I secured a job at my local David Lloyd. During this time, I competed at IRONMAN Lanzarote. I won my age group and secured a spot at the IRONMAN World Championships in Hawaii. I soon realised that while I enjoyed many parts of being a PT, I missed the mental stimulation that comes with a challenging job. So I made the decision to go back into the corporate world. This is how I ended up in my current role. I am a buyer for a company called Alpkit. It’s a small company so I have a significant amount of responsibility and have learned a lot in the time I have been here.

A typical day:

My alarm goes off at 5:50, although I have found I don’t need it these days, my body clock wakes me up anyway. I clean my teeth, grab my bag and head off for my first training session of the day. This is normally a swim at David Lloyd.

I get to work about 8am, where I have my second breakfast, and reply to emails from our suppliers in the Far East. My days vary significantly, but I spend a large amount of my time forecasting our product demand for the next year and placing these orders with our many suppliers. I currently own three of the 4 Alpkit categories and work to ensure the availability of the blue-chip products.

I also spend a lot of time bargaining for better terms, whether this be reducing deposits, Minimum order quantities, prices or credit terms.

With a colleague, I help to manage our shipment schedule for complete orders in the Far East. We also plan the payment schedule. Working in a growing company provides many challenges and at times it can feel like quite a reactive process.

I always get out for a walk (or run) at lunch to clear my head and then eat my actual lunch at my desk.

When I finish work I complete my second training session of the day, before heading home for dinner. Every evening I pack my food, training kit and work stuff for the following day so I can repeat it all again. Then I am in bed for 10pm.

I am a big believer in trying lots of different things, until I find the place I’m meant to be.


What made you choose this career/industry?

If I’m completely honest, I haven’t found my particular calling in life yet. I am a big believer in trying lots of different things, until I find the place I’m meant to be.

How did you get to where you are now, and did you face any challenges along the way?

A lot of hard work and determination. Life is made up of challenges and setbacks, it’s what makes it so fun.

What do you feel passionate about in your role?

Giving responsibility and learning opportunities to all team members, regardless of their level in the company.

What do you think gave you the drive and determination to succeed?

I grew up with strong role models and parents that always pushed me to succeed. One of my vivid memories is doing a GCSE a year early and only getting a C. Luckily it was religious studies and not one I needed for my further studies but this was a turning point. From this moment on, I have always pushed myself. In my opinion one of the worst things you can have in life is regrets.

What is your biggest achievement in life?

I have 2. The first one is graduating from university with a first and the second is competing in the IRONMAN World Championships in Hawaii.

You get out what you put in.

What is the biggest lesson that you’ve learnt along the way?

You get out what you put in.


Outside your work, what are your favourite hobbies and pastimes?

I spend a significant amount of my week training for IRONMAN distance triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run). This aside I have a growing instagram profile (@rachelrutherford), a blog and a youtube channel. In the time that I have left, I enjoy socialising and chilling out.

Do you have a mantra you live your life by?

When the going gets tough, the tough get going

What three tips would you give to young females starting their careers?

If something doesn’t feel right now, it is very unlikely to feel right in the future. You are never trapped in a job, and its best to explore different opportunities while you are young. For me there is much more to life than just work, and a large part of my success actually comes from personal achievements in my sport.


Never compare yourself to other people

What is the best bit of advice that you have ever been given? 

Never compare yourself to other people. You have no idea what life has in store for them, and no idea what is going on behind closed doors.


Can you talk about one woman who has impacted your life?

When I moved to Nottingham, I lived with a lady called Ceri. She has been there through many of my ups and downs, and has encouraged me to try things I perhaps wouldn’t have done on my own.

What are your key motivators?

Rightly or wrongly, and much to the frustration of my family, I am not as motivated by money as I could be. One of the most important things for me in a job, is challenge and a positive encouraging work environment. I always like to be learning, and making improvements to the status quo. For me this is both highly motivating and rewarding. Also being appreciated for the work I put in really motivates me to keep pushing.

Do you think enough is being done by businesses to address gender imbalance?

With regards to the businesses I have worked in I would have to say yes. I do however believe it is important to recognise the significant differences between men and women.

Fasten your seatbelt, you have no idea what life has in store for you.

Tell us some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations?

Be bold and driven. If you want people to notice you, you need to stand out, be confident and be different. In addition, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and apply for significant leadership roles. At the end of the day; what is the worst that can happen, you get told no.

What advice do you have for women aiming for leadership positions?

Bring people with you. The best leaders have the support of the people around them and believe in their ability.

Tell us one key leadership lesson you’ve learned along the way?

Talk less, listen more. Some of the quietest people have the best ideas.

What would you say to your 16-year-old self

Fasten your seatbelt, you have no idea what life has in store for you.

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