\r\n\r\nWhat is your history in the industry?\r\n\r\nMy first job in the sector was as an administration assistant at Dudley MBC in bereavement services 15 years ago. There was a really special moment on my first day - I overheard a colleague supporting a family after they found the teddy bears they had placed on the grave of their baby were missing. It was so moving and inspiring to hear how my colleague supported and communicated with the family. I\u2019d say this is the moment I realised that helping bereaved families is absolutely what I want to do in life.\r\n\r\nA few years later, I applied to be a crematorium manager at Telford Crematorium and this was my first job with Dignity. My career developed pretty quickly from this point!\r\n\r\nI became a memorial business development manager, visiting Dignity\u2019s sites and meeting and supporting colleagues in various operational projects, before being promoted to a regional manager in 2015, where I was responsible for the memorial business and around six large operational cemeteries and crematoria sites in London. In the same year, I obtained a diploma from Stratford Business School in Cemetery and Crematorium Management.\u00a0\r\n\r\nI\u2019ve also completed an MBA which took me to New York, Milan, and London and my dissertation was based on how organisations can support the bereaved.\r\n\r\nIn 2019, I moved to Westerleigh Group as commercial and operations director, but my passion for Dignity and our people drew me back to the business last year as chief operating officer, before being appointed chief executive last month.\r\n\r\n\r\nWhy did you previously leave Dignity, and why do you feel now is the right time to come back?\r\n\r\nI moved to the Westerleigh Group into a more senior role as commercial and operations director, which was a great development opportunity. I gained invaluable experience in a different operating environment, but had always hoped to return to Dignity one day. When I found out more about Dignity\u2019s new strategy, direction and focus on putting our front-line colleagues \u2013 alongside our clients - at the heart of our decision making, it was too compelling to not come back. Our people have always been really special to me.\r\n\r\nI\u2019m so proud of what we\u2019ve achieved in my first year back with Dignity. From our restructure and strategy focussed on turning the business on its head, through better support, greater investment, and true empowerment of our people, to our preparation work ready for incoming regulation. I\u2019m really looking forward to continuing to embed and live our principles and our strategy over the coming months and years.\r\n\r\n\r\nWhat do you personally hope to achieve in your new role as CEO?\r\n\r\nI want to make sure we have the right culture in place \u2013 empowered people that are driven and inspired by our social purpose, and this is embedded in our new principles which we launched earlier this year. These principles are crucial to creating an environment where our colleagues feel truly proud to be part of Dignity in an environment where they can grow and share ideas.\u00a0\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s also essential for us to live and breathe our principles to enhance our reputation that clients trust, and for our partners to feel inspired to work with us. I\u2019m excited to bring a fresh perspective as we continue to deliver our new strategy during a period of structural, regulatory and societal change. My long-term aim is to build a strong and enduring business, but I\u2019m also passionate about shaping a new organisational culture within what is a fairly traditional industry.\r\n\r\n\r\nWhat responsibilities does the role include?\r\n\r\nOne of my core responsibilities will be to achieve our vision to be the UK\u2019s leading end-of-life service provider that delivers the very best service to our clients. This means building and embedding our new strategy and principles. We\u2019ve created 12 regions across the UK, and we\u2019re replacing the management hierarchy and working towards understanding local needs in local communities and empowering our colleagues on the front line. I also want to create an environment where our colleagues can grow, are supported to be their best and to learn from each other. \r\n\r\nWhy do you see this as a \u2018crucial\u2019 time for the business?\r\n\r\nThe pandemic highlighted the importance of the sector and the work that we do for communities. It raised awareness of the individuals who dedicate their lives to the funeral sector, and they\u2019re now being recognised alongside key workers.\r\n\r\nThe sector is undergoing huge regulatory changes, and Dignity has been central to raising quality and standards in the sector for a number of years. A lot of work has gone into delivering our FCA regulatory programme, and we continue to work with the CMA, as we have done throughout the market investigation process, to deliver better outcomes for our clients and consumers.\u00a0\r\n\r\nWe\u2019ve also experienced a period of significant leadership change, but now have the opportunity to create a strong and stable business that is shaped around serving bereaved families, high standards and delivering customer excellence.\r\n\r\nWhat is Dignity\u2019s new crematorium and funeral strategy?\r\n\r\nAt the heart of our organisation is a core purpose to help people say goodbye, to remember and to celebrate the life of those they\u2019ve lost as well as plan ahead for their own funeral, so that their wishes are clearly articulated, with peace of mind that the costs are covered rather than falling to loved ones.\u00a0\r\n\r\nWe\u2019re rolling out our new strategy and integrating our services so that we\u2019ll have funeral operations, crematoria and funeral plans working together and no longer in silos. We want Dignity to be a confederation of strong local businesses, with local people who know their area the best serving their communities, supported by our central service teams that help enable a consistent through a national approach, sharing of learnings and resources and.\r\n\r\nOur goal is also to create excellent long-term value for our shareholders, and we\u2019ll ensure that we allocate capital wisely, organise ourselves prudently, spend money frugally and report openly and honestly.\r\n\r\nWhat further changes would you like to see? What are Dignity\u2019s future development projects?\r\n\r\nMy immediate priority is developing our culture at Dignity while keeping our colleagues and clients at heart. We\u2019re aiming to be a learning organisation, and we want to continuously learn from our experiences, especially by learning from our failures. We also want to work as one Dignity, harnessing the local insight and experience our front line colleagues can provide to offer our clients a tailored, more seamless service.\r\n\r\nWe also want to protect our planet, and this is one of our new principles. We\u2019re making a big commitment to be a greener Dignity, and I\u2019m focused on delivering this as it\u2019s important for the sector but also the communities we serve. We\u2019re also committed to ensuring that Dignity is a more diverse and inclusive company than it already is.\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\r\n\r\nWe\u2019re also currently working on developing a market leading funeral plan product which we\u2019ll be launching very soon \u2013 so watch this space!\r\n\r\nWhat organisational changes, and regulation and operational efficiencies is the company attempting to drive?\r\n\r\nWe were already focused on providing consumer choice and transparency and the CMA investigation was the catalyst to further accelerate change not only at Dignity but across the sector as a whole. Since CMA regulation came into play, we\u2019ve had full transparency of prices on our websites following CMA recommendations. We\u2019ve innovated and made the customer experience as informed as possible. In regards to the incoming FCA regulation, we\u2019ve already moved away from a corporate distribution model to a more direct model, making the delivery in line with FCA regulation.\r\n\r\nWe\u2019ve completely changed our sales and business strategy whilst creating one of the most, if not the most, innovative product offers on the market and we\u2019re very excited about this. I\u2019m also really proud of our support for Safe Hands customers as we\u2019re ensuring that anyone who passes away in the next six months receives a funeral without an extra charge, and we\u2019re looking at if and how we could go further with support.\r\n\r\nWhere would you like to see Dignity in the next five years?\u00a0\r\n\r\nWe want to be the UK\u2019s leading provider of end-of-life services. We know we need to invest in Dignity, bringing our property portfolio up to scratch, taking better care of our facilities and improved aesthetics. We also need to invest in our people as well, as we move away from management hierarchy and work towards understanding local needs in local communities.\u00a0\r\n\r\nWe\u2019ll also be reviewing and re-focusing our centralised support functions. I\u2019m proud to be a young female on the board and we\u2019re committed to diversity and inclusion. I\u2019m looking forward to sharing our progress in the years ahead.