As the Sales & Customer Service Manager at Orega Birmingham, Caron Salter-Hill is no stranger to hard work, and for the 63 year old who shows no signs of slowing down just yet, hard work and dedication are exactly what got her to where she is today.
Caron is the 4th of 5 children of a Jamaican father, who came to the UK via the RAF during the war, and a Jamaican mother, who joined her father in the UK after living with Caron’s 3 sisters in the USA.
“They met in Jamaica, got married there and had 3 children, then the war happened,” explained Caron, fondly remembering their story. “They settled in Moseley after the war, then I came along, and 5 years later my brother was born, although we lost my middle sister in 2005.”
There was a strong work ethic instilled in the whole family from day one, with Caron’s sisters taking positions abroad; one as a pharmacist in Canada, and one recently retired as a district attorney in the USA.
Her brother ran his own company, and her late sister worked in local government through the School Library Service her whole life.
From the age of 3 until 16, ballet was Caron’s life, and she had aspirations to teach ballet and have her own ballet school, however “things change, and I grew up a little bit.” “I went to Bournville Tech and Matthew Boulton College, and took business studies with secretarial qualifications in shorthand and typing, before taking a position at the council in the Architects department.”
Caron then fell pregnant with her son, and spent a year with him at home before deciding she had to get back into work, but wanted something completely different. Taking a job with Securicor, she started in the Transport division as an Admin Clerk before working her way up to middle management. “They had great training facilities and personal development there, and as my first senior role I was managing a business administration section of 42 people.”
“75% of the employees were female, and the experience I gained from that was phenomenal, working as a manager, mother and dealing with office politics. On Fridays my door was always open if anyone needed help, or to talk, and I never got anything done on a Friday except that!”
After 12 years with Securicor, they split their operations into North and South, and the Midlands was completely knocked out, resulting in redundancy.
“I wanted to stay in the transport industry, and Parceline, now DPD, came knocking.” The director got in touch with Caron directly, and admitted that although he wanted to hire her, he didn’t know where to put her due to her expansive experience and knowledge. He settled on a department that Caron had never worked in before – Sales.
“Instantly I was like no no no, definitely not! I wasn’t trained and my skill was always training and people management. But I needed the job, so I gave it a shot, you never know where things are going to take you!”
Starting in Internal Sales, making appointments for other people, Caron found she quite enjoyed the job, and after a couple of months, she was given a set of car keys to “run in” a new car for the director.
“Every week for nearly a month I kept going back asking him when he wanted the car back and eventually he sat me down and told me that he didn’t want it back, but he gave me a list of people and places, and I was to take the car to go see them all, essentially being field sales.”
After another initial bout of self doubt and worry, Caron took the bull by the horns, and never looked back, doing field sales for 2 years in her own territory, before she was headhunted by TNT, who were huge on personal development, and Caron took full advantage.
Spending 11 years at TNT, working her way up to Sales Manager of the East Midlands team, and eventually taking on Birmingham as well, she was headhunted once again, this time the UK Sales of Marketing Director of TNT took 9 managers with him over to Regus. While at Regus Caron wanted to do more with one of her passions, interior design, and completed a City & Guilds qualification with a high merit with a home study course with an Interior Design Academy.
Headhunted once again while at Regus, by Target Space based at Baskerville House , she spent 4 years there until they redeveloped Baskerville House and sold it. By this time, Orega had approached her.
“Orega is in all major cities around the UK, and the business is growing. It works in partnership with all the landlords. It’s a great business, desire for people who want flexibility with their office space, or if they just want flexible space on a short term basis.”
The team that Caron manages at Orega Birmingham is a young team, and they’re learning a lot, with Caron leading by example. “I want to develop my team so that they can get to a level that they want to stay with Orega and further their careers. It’s great to be able to lead, teach and pass on my experiences.”
Although she has been successful throughout her career, Caron said that thankfully she has only really had 2 experiences of racism during her time in business. “One man wouldn’t shake my hand because he was racist, and told me as much, and another was sacked the same day for how she had treated me after I visited the company on an appointment.”
“I was brought up with very strong family beliefs, and a strong work ethic through a long line of strong black women, but it has never been easy. These are things that I’ve instilled in my own son, my son has instilled in my grandchildren, and my great-grandson who is only 3 months old now will have instilled in him too.”
“Fight for what you want, it’s important to fight for your dreams,” says Caron, “It’s not been easy pushing through those barriers, and there are people who will continually knock you down, but you need to get back up every time, it’ll make you stronger.” Caron truly is an inspiration, both to her family and her team, and after reading her story, we’re sure she’ll be an inspiration to many of our readers too.