This week I sat down with Iwona Richert, First2Group’s Accounts Assistant. Originally from Poland, Iwona has now been in Manchester for 10 years – so I wanted to know what it was like coming from the European Union, speaking no English and creating a life.
Iwona’s job has turned into more than just that here at First2Group, it’s her dream, and she gets to live it every day now. Originally studying with the idea she wanted to be a maths teacher, Iwona’s path took her to being, well, an accountant! After studying accountancy in college as her route into maths, at the age of 20, she saw there were opportunities in the UK for a very different life and literally packed her bags and left; without knowing a word of English, Iwona managed to get by with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and peoples facial expressions!
Her first job here in the UK was in the cloakroom of a Manchester club where she would spend the quieter parts of her shift reading the Polish-English Dictionary to develop her English language skills. As well as this she was studying English 3 days a week at College, and of course, looking after her fantastic daughter. As you can tell, Iwona is a very determined lady. Describing herself as a high achiever with floods of ambition, she told me that part of the move was due to a lack of opportunities in Poland at the time and the need to strive for more in life, being able to be the best she could be.
It took Iwona just 5 years to learn the language and pass her accounting qualifications – after studying and working as admin amongst other things, 9 years on Iwona found herself with an interview for BTG Recruitment as a candidate. At the time, there was a place on the First2Group team as Accounts Assistant to the lovely Kelly Jackson who was soon to go on maternity leave. In her candidate interview, Emily Tamms of BTG clearly saw that Iwona was a perfect fit. With this being her first accounting job, Kelly trained her up and taught her everything she knows today, giving her invaluable tools for the future and the industry. Straight after her ‘perfect’ interview with Kelly she received a call from Murali Goluguri, joint Managing Director of FIrst2Group to organise a second interview for the job, after which she got the contract!
Deeming this as ‘fate’, I was intrigued as to what makes this country, career and company such a perfect fit for her. She explained that as someone who finds learning easy, and especially when she’s passionate about it, she knew this was what she wanted – a better life with more opportunities, the pro’s always outweighed the cons. Iwona is so appreciate for everything First2Group have given her and still offers her. Explaining how patient Kelly was as she started her first accounting job with the company, teaching everything she knows now (with special thanks to her Excel skills)! As Iwona says, “College is not real life. When you start work, that’s when you get the full picture and it all comes together.”
Describing First2Group as the best place she’s ever worked, Iwona walks into work everyday with a big smile on her face and leaves with the same smile ready to come back the next day; it’s truly inspirational to meet and work with someone who has a genuine love and passion for both what they do and where they work; “what I’m trying to say is, this job is perfect… it’s not just what I do, it’s the people around me”. Iwona says that she has never come across managers like Murali Goluguri and James Torkington, “they are so fair and giving, they want you to be happy in your job and want everyone to do well for themselves, being the best they can be, and they will help you achieve that in anyway they can. They really believe in me which is great, it helps me to strive further knowing they are rooting for me. And being such happy people is fantastic for team moral, everyday we work so hard, but everyday we have so much fun.”
Written by Sammie Williams, Head of PR and Marketing.