Meet Taj, Operations Manager, UK Softlines
11 Oct 2022
Find out more about Taj's successful transition from lab to operations, and how Intertek has supported her career development.
We were delighted to talk to Taj Parari about her career with Intertek. Taj joined us in 2017 and took on her first operations management role, having previously worked as a lab manager. Today, Taj is operations manager for our UK Softlines business, which oversees the testing of a wide range of consumer products.
Hear about Taj's successful transition from lab to operations, why she made the change and how she's continued to progress her career with Intertek.
Taj is a true champion of the colleagues she leads, and we loved hearing about the pride she takes in supporting and enabling her colleagues to succeed. Taj's team all talk about her boundless positivity and describe her as supportive, approachable and a great motivator. Find out more from Taj herself:
Taj, can you tell us about when you first joined Intertek?
I joined Intertek in October 2017 as Operations Manager for our Hardlines business in Leicester, UK, which manages consumer product testing for all kinds of different retail brands and manufacturers. The role was far removed from what I'd been doing previously, which was working in environmental science as a lab manager, but I was ready for the change and was keen to get into a more operational role. Intertek saw my potential and gave me the chance to take on my first operations management role.
My job was part of driving a big change within the UK Hardlines business line, where we completely refocused our teams, processes, and priorities to maximise our potential. As a result of this transformation, we won two internal awards in 2018.
What prompted you to move from lab management to operations?
I could see that in operations I would have much more of an ability to actually create change, to set a vision and to drive success for a bigger team. As an operations manager for a business line, I'm now looking after multiple lab teams, looking at the more strategic picture, and helping to define where we want to go in the future.
How have you progressed your career at Intertek since joining?
In my original role, I reported into the business line director for UK Hardlines and Softlines, and he was great at pushing me to think about what I wanted to do next. He really encouraged me to consider taking on another operations role in our Softlines business where he believed I could make a similar impact. The role meant relocating to a different part of the country, but after a bit of thought I decided that I was ready and up for a new challenge!
So, I was promoted in 2019 and moved from Leicester to Leigh to become Operations Manager for the UK Softline business, which also does consumer products testing but is mainly focused on things like textiles, clothing, footwear, and soft furnishing testing.
What attracted you to Intertek in the first place?
When I first found out about my original role in the Hardlines business, I was excited about the opportunity to join a global business, like Intertek. As a FTSE 100 company it offers loads of opportunities to progress and develop, and I really wanted to challenge myself to try something new and to grow as part of a larger organisation.
Who has helped you to develop your Intertek career?
I've been really lucky with the people I've worked with; I've collaborated with inspirational business line leaders and colleagues from all over the Intertek business who have pushed me to develop and have given me great pointers about what to focus on. I wouldn't be where I am now without the support of those people.
I also got the chance to be part of a development project a few years ago called 'Learning Labs', which gave me the opportunity to work closely with our HR team and leaders from across all our different business lines during an intensive week of training. We got several days of coaching and then learnt about techniques and tools we could then use to better support our own teams. That was amazing as I got the chance to meet people I wouldn't normally work with day-to-day, and to spend time with colleagues who were facing similar challenges and opportunities to me so we could exchange our ideas and experiences.
In my experience, we've got great people across Intertek who you can go to for advice or support. Whether they're in your business line or not, there's people with years of experience who are happy to give you the time, share their learnings and guide you.
Do you have any career highlights from your time at Intertek?
All of my career highlights come back to the teams I've worked with. Any time there's been something I'm really proud of, it's a reflection on how my teams have come together to achieve something.
I'm hugely proud of my time with the UK Hardlines business, how we pulled together to transform how we operated and the Intertek awards we then won, recognising our success. It was great to see how we all pulled it out of the bag together as a team! During that time, I was also really lucky to win a colleague recognition award from our Europe and Central Asia region. It was lovely to get, but I did find it a little awkward because it wasn't just about me, it was about all of us as a business line and what we'd all achieved together!
Another more recent highlight has been in my current role with the UK Softlines business, seeing how we approached the challenges of Covid together as a business. I know it's been a really challenging couple of years for everyone, but I'm so proud of my team's positive attitude, their drive to get us through and to make sure we came out the other side better than before. Seeing them achieve what they needed to, and doing it really well, has just been such a highlight. I don't need any awards for that, I just want to see my team happy in what they're doing and succeeding.
What do you enjoy about working at Intertek?
I'd definitely say the variety in what we do means it's always interesting – no day's the same and there's always something else going on to get involved in. It's also great when there are big development projects to get involved in because you get global exposure, real learning opportunities and you know you can really make an impact.
But for me, the best thing at Intertek has to be the people. I've met some of the most intelligent, funny and hard-working people during my time here – the kind of people that really make me want to come into work because of their attitude!
What advice would you give someone joining Intertek?
I would say, make sure you make the effort to meet people, and come into work with an open mind, a great attitude and ready to learn!
We're a fast-paced business so things can change quickly but that gives you great opportunities to adapt and learn. Get involved and shout out if you want to get involved in something! The opportunities are there if you want to take them. And if you've got ideas, don't be afraid to share these – we're always trying to innovate, and if you can see a way to make something work better then that's always welcome!
You will also feel like you are part of something really positive, because the business is doing really great things to help make the world, and everyone's day-to-day lives, better, safer and more sustainable.