Susan Rorbach - ‘In every role I have ever been in I have challenged myself to learn more.’


In this blog, we speak to Sue Rorbach, customer Service Manager for Ibstock Brick Ltd. She talks to us about why she chose this industry, how she got to where she is now and what her key motivators are.


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

My name is Sue and I have been recently promoted to Customer Service Manager for Ibstock Brick Ltd. I lead a team covering five Sales Offices across the UK that provides customer service and sales support.


I have two children aged 17 and 15 and like any other working parent, I have to juggle my career with home life. I have a great husband who has always supported every decision I have made about my career and bringing up the children has always been a joint responsibility.


From day one I have always been in a service department in some capacity. My passion is helping others and this is also true in my personal life. I joined Ibstock almost 11 years ago and have been fortunate to be involved in various projects that have expanded my knowledge in so many different areas of the business


A typical day in your career:

I don’t think I have a typical day, however, I always check what was left from the day before and new emails to clear urgent tasks. I’m very new in this role so at the moment it is about building relationships with stakeholders and utilising my experience and those around the business to identify areas for improvement. We want to be offering the best service to all of our customers, we need to stand out! Therefore, we need to understand where we have barriers that stop us from offering the best service possible. I will be spending time engaging with staff in each department that has both a direct and indirect impact on our customer, understanding where we can become more efficient in what we do, through streamlining processes and being part of teams that deliver innovative ideas. In hand, with this, we need to gain feedback from our customers so I will also be spending time with our sales staff visiting customers.


What made you choose this career/industry?

I came into the industry after being made redundant. I was working in national recruitment and it was during the last recession. I knew I wanted to remain in the service sector and thought I would try something new in construction. I believe that in a lot of cases skills are transferable and just had to learn a new product so I had no concerns when I joined Ibstock. My late father in law worked for Ibstock at the time and provided me with some background on the company. The world has a funny way of showing you things as I had been on a tour at the factory my father in law worked at when I was a primary school child. Little did I know I would end up working for Ibstock years later.


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

In every role I have ever been in I have challenged myself to learn more. I cannot just do nothing or continue to do the same thing over and over. I always keep myself mentally challenged and am very inquisitive. When I left college and joined a large telecommunications company it didn’t take me long to get on projects and make sure I was recognised for my abilities. I enrolled on management courses as I knew I wanted to share my knowledge and be a positive force for leading others. In my younger years, I did face some challenges. I was a young mother but I didn’t let that stop me from building a career. There were times where I was held back or even had to start all over again after returning from maternity which can be very demotivating. However, I saw this a challenge to prove (mainly to myself) that you can continue to grow and develop your career even when others are trying to hold you back. Don’t accept no for an answer, take a look in the mirror and see if you need to adapt.


If any, can you tell us more about how you overcame those setbacks?

I was relentless, I would push my managers to still provide me with the opportunities to grow. I would challenge (constructively) when I was held back. I would and still do look at others around me to see if I needed to change my approach.


What is an important initiative that you feel passionate about in your role?

Empower your employees so they naturally want to offer the best. Most people need some room to grow and encourage them to bring you some ideas.


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

From a very young age, I faced many challenges in helping my deaf parents. I would come across so many barriers in helping them to do simple things. As a hearing person, we take for granted being able to communicate and the world we live in is geared towards able-bodied people. As I grew up during the ’80s and 90’s technology for the everyday person was basic, so if we needed to get in touch with a company for a household bill most people would pick up the phone and speak to the company to resolve any queries. I had a regular battle trying to resolve the simplest of queries, my parents had to write in to give me permission to speak on their behalf as they could not communicate on the phone. This would take an average of two weeks by the time the letter was received and processed by the customer relations department and then I had to call back to make sure they had a letter to then resolve a query. These challenges from a young age made me very resilient and determined to get what I needed for my parents and I suppose this has moulded me as a person to never give up. There is more than one path to get to where you need.


Move on, you cannot change the past but make sure you learn from it.


What’s great about being a female in your role?

Men and women bring different skills and I believe it is about knowing who has the right skills to deal with the challenge at hand. It’s about how you use your life experiences and understanding of others in order to lead.


What is your biggest achievement in life?

I struggle to answer this. I suppose having my children at a young age and still being able to build a career. I also completed a mud run to raise money for cancer research.


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

Move on, you cannot change the past but make sure you learn from it.


Have you ever felt that your gender has brought unnecessary challenges to your career?

The only time I felt it gave me greater challenges was when I had my children and I was not with Ibstock at that time. It felt like I had to prove myself all over again when I returned from maternity.


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

I love to read crime and psychological thrillers, the kind of books that make you think and explore how people behave. I spend a lot of my time volunteering with the RAF Air Cadets as a Chairperson for the Civilian Welfare Committee. We raise funds for the cadets to support activities and purchase equipment so they develop life skills. We are involved with young people from all walks of life and it is very rewarding to be a positive influence in their life. We are a charity and also work closely with other local charities to ensure we are benefiting many people in the local community. The skills I have gained during my working career help with supporting the team at the Air Cadets and I can also share my leadership skills with the cadets. We have many female cadets and they include cadets who are climbing through the ranks, this includes my own daughter who seems to have the same drive and passion as myself.


Do you have a mantra you live your life by?

Live life for today as you don’t know what is around the corner.


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

Believe in yourself, work hard (it’s up to you to put the effort in), do a job you are happy in.


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

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. No one knows it all or can do it all, we always work better as a team.


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

It sounds cliché but my Mum. Despite being deaf and the challenges it brings, as a young child, I watched her have a go at most things. When I was a young I remember my Dad building the garden walls all around the back of the property and my mum was out there moving the blocks, mixing the cement and getting us involved. It wasn’t a job just for the men. Just because some think a certain job is for a male doesn’t mean I won’t give it a go.


Live life for today as you don’t know what is around the corner.



What are your key motivators?

A sense of achievement. Watching others develop and take on the skills you have shared. Challenging work, I am at my best when I need to get really involved in the detail and then create a solution.


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

There is always more that can be done but we need to start with young females at school and remove the stereotypes that are attached to certain roles. I have seen this start to happen in the RAF and it filters through to the Air Cadets which start at the age of 12.


What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations?

Take a chance as there will never be a right time. If there is a small window to demonstrate your abilities, then take it. Be focused and deliver on your promises. Exceed others expectations and think outside of the box. Seek feedback and take criticism positively. You need to be remembered for what you do not what you say.


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

Know what you want and connect with key people. You need to show them you can deliver, simply ‘do what you say you are going to do’. Actions speak louder than words and you need to be prepared to invest the time. Be prepared to make sacrifices, you can be a mother and have a career but you must decide what you are willing to give up at that point in your life. Ask yourself the question, what do you want now and what can wait? I have read so many articles on women trying to be ‘superwomen’ doing everything. It is only you that puts this pressure on yourself and it is hard to get the right work/life balance. Ultimately the pressure you put upon yourself is not good for both your physical and mental wellbeing.


What’s one key leadership lesson you’ve learned along the way?

Everyone has a voice and in order to be a leader, you need to allow others the opportunity to be heard. Be present and listen, you don’t have all the answers but you will find them from those around you.


What's the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Ask for help. You are not on your own and do not have to do everything yourself.


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

Remember where you have come from and you always have a choice. Be prepared for knock backs and that your path in life may change several times but you will still get there.



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