Aya Abdelkafi's pathway to becoming an Advanced employee was quite unconventional as she joined the business via an acquisition when a company called Kirona joined the organisation.
She recently celebrated her three-year 'Advanced-iversary' and saw it as a fitting moment to reflect on her time with the business so far.
Read this blog to hear how Aya managed to take advantage of the internal opportunity and mobility available to her here at Advanced - finding herself a role that she finds rewarding and feels passionate about as an Associate Talent Enablement Partner within our People Experience (PX) team.
What led you to become a part of the Advanced People Experience (PX) Team?
After working in business development for two years, I decided that I wanted a fresh start, and a new challenge to take on. My manager at the time then connected me with David Houston (Talent Enablement Manager), who still happens to be my manager now. Once I’d sat down with David and discussed my strengths, weaknesses, and interests – we decided that the best direction for me to go in was to join the then HR function, as an Associate Talent Partner, (which has since been renamed Associate Talent Enablement Partner).
I did have a few discussions with people in Marketing as well over a proposed move into that department, but I felt like a role in the PX team suited me and my skillset more. Looking back, I think I undoubtedly made the right decision as I feel like I’ve developed so much within the short time I’ve been a part of PX; I’ve been encouraged to grow by pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and by taking ownership over various projects.
Technically, I am still in the same role currently, but instead of focusing on recruitment, my work is now focused on employee learning and development. I love being a part of the performance enablement team as there’s a lot of variation in my role, meaning I’m constantly turning my attention to different areas, and never feel stagnated.
One of my main aims at the moment is creating a community for all of our HEPLs (High-Performance Entry-Level) employees. This will be a space that will be developed specifically for them to be able to engage with other HEPLs, giving them that all-important sense of community and a place for them to access their career framework.
I also try my best to fit in some work around D&I when I can; I am a co-chair of our Advanced Enable (our disability network), and I’m also the PX sponsor of the Black Lives Matter Network. I’ve also qualified to become an #IAmRemarkable Coach (an initiative run by Google), which involves facilitating workshops to help people celebrate their achievements within Advanced.
What prompted you to get involved in the D&I initiatives?
When I started gearing myself towards the learning & development side of my role and started to move away from recruitment, it meant that naturally, I was looking more into people, what they were doing, how they were doing it, and how we could help them to create a success story here at Advanced.
I had a conversation with one of my colleagues Leanne Campbell (Senior Talent Enablement Partner & Co-chair of Advanced Women’s Network), who’d just joined the Advanced Women’s Network. Then she prompted me to go and see what Advanced Enable was about, and from there I was able to get in contact with the network and put myself forward to become a co-chair.
One of the reasons for putting myself into the position to be an integral part of the Advanced Enable Network is because it’s an area that sits very close to my heart and it’s something that I feel very passionate about so I’ve been very keen to help and participate in any way that I can.
What do you hope to achieve during the rest of your time with the business?
Fortunately for me, Advanced has enabled me to thrive within a space that feels like the right career path for me. I’ve just moved into helping people learn and develop, which I’ve realised is my true passion – it’s something that I thoroughly enjoy doing and something that I think I do well in.
What sets Advanced apart from other companies, and makes them a great business to work for, is that they give you the opportunity to jump in at the deep end, and enable you to take on roles and projects without needing copious amounts of experience or training.
Therefore, to answer your question, during the rest of my time with Advanced I hope to keep on expanding my knowledge and establishing myself as an integral cog in the both performance enablement and the wider PX team.
Describe the Company Culture in your 3 years with the business
It’s very fast-paced. It’s a fast-moving business which means that there is an abundance of opportunity because everything moves so quickly. However, that means it’s also a very exciting time to be an Advanced employee. We have a great culture here; it’s filled with supportive people that are ready to work with you and support you in any way they can.
There’s also a great social culture – especially around the Mailbox office – which makes it so much easier to enjoy your work. I think we tend to forget that our work takes up so much of our lives, and if you can’t incorporate a social aspect into that – then you’re not going to enjoy the majority of your life, therefore, it’s vitally important to build and maintain healthy relationships within your workplace.
That’s what makes Advanced is that the business allows you to have that space. It allows you to go into an office where you can have friends, where you can chat with anyone, where it’s comfortable, where it’s easy, and where it’s nice. I’ve worked in two different departments, and I’ve had great experiences, and have made great relationships with people in both teams. I mean my old manager is one of my closest friends now, so I’ve got so much more out of Advanced than just somewhere to come and work.
It's also such a nice place to work in terms of the little perks that they provide you with such as Summer Fridays (an afternoon off every week throughout July & August), which makes such a difference to your physical and mental wellbeing - plus it gives you the added bonus of being able to start your weekend a few hours earlier!