Deborah Sutton
Customer Relationship Marketing Training and Support Officer
Manchester HQ, Eccles

Deborah Sutton

  • Customer Relationship Marketing Training and Support Officer
  • Manchester HQ, Eccles

Miss! Miss! Can I have a career in drainage maintenance too?

Former teacher Deborah Sutton left behind a career she loved and has found another that she enjoys just as much – in the drainage industry.

As a girl, Deborah liked nothing better than playing schools with her two younger sisters, and she was always the teacher.
She then went on to have a career lasting more than 12 years as a secondary school teacher, loving the opportunity to inspire pupils to learn and benefit from a good education. Now, though, she has switched her career and is the Customer Relationship Marketing Training and Support Officer for Lanes Group plc.

Deborah, who is part of the Lanes marketing team at the company’s Manchester HQ office, in Eccles, Greater Manchester, said: “I wanted to be a teacher from a very early age. I loved playing teacher with my sisters. I was quite a strict make-believe teacher as I remember! But I think that just reflects the way teachers behaved when I was at primary school.”

Deborah’s desire to be a teacher was knocked off course by teachers’ strikes in the mid-1980s. She did not agree with the way the strikes had disrupted the education of pupils, especially during exams. So, she chose instead to go into banking, studied for a BTEC in Business and Finance before working for TSB Bank for two years.

“I realised quite quickly that I had made a mistake,” said Deborah. “I still wanted to be a teacher. So, I went back to college.”

Deborah competed a four-year course to achieve a Higher National Diploma (HND) and a Business Studies science degree combined with QTS (Qualified Teacher Status). Her first job as a teacher was in the sixth form of Slough Grammar School, in Berkshire, teaching business studies and leisure and tourism. She then went on to teach at schools in Swinton and Leigh, in Greater Manchester, before working as a supply teacher, a role that fitted well with bringing up her two children. Then changes to the way teaching was organised led to a review of career choices. Deborah explained: “Supply teaching work was reduced, and I didn’t like the way teaching became more bureaucratic and rigid.”

In between supply teaching, Deborah had worked for two years in the marketing department at Lanes. Later, when she approached Head of Marketing Michelle Ringland for a reference, Michelle had other plans. She offered Deborah a job.

Deborah said: “It was nice to be wanted so I said yes. I knew Lanes and very much liked working with Michelle, who is so full of ideas and energy, so it was quite easy to say yes.”

When she had first worked at Lanes, in 2007, she had been “blown away” by a working environment away from the classroom. “All the terminology and ways of working were so different, I wasn’t sure it was for me,” she said. “But Michelle and the whole Lanes team at Manchester were so supportive, I quickly found my feet and really began to enjoy it. It was only the desire to continue with my teaching career that made me leave.”

Deborah returned – at Michelle’s invitation – in 2012. Her new role allows her to use her teaching skills and experience to full advantage.

She has been responsible for rolling out and developing a NetSuite CRM system that has become central to Lanes’ sales and marketing.

Deborah said: “Training a wide range of staff across the UK to use the CRM system has been critical to its success. The training programme I’ve developed is based on the learning styles and personalities of individual work colleagues. “The training is continuous, with refresher modules aimed at giving our NetSuite users a greater understanding of the software so they feel in control and get the best from the system.

“Michelle also continues to challenge my career development as I oversee and manage weekly reporting and investment in the system. I’m responsible for project management of software integration, which has reaffirmed the trust placed in me. 

It’s really pleasing when it’s clear from my training that colleagues have grasped what to do straight away, and their confidence grows, along with Lanes’ sales success. I suppose once a teacher, always a teacher.”

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