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Lauren Clarke: leading by caring
By Tammy Barton

When Tammy May reflects on MyBudget’s rapid growth over the last decade, she says that staff have been one of the key ingredients. “When I launched MyBudget, I knew we had to engage with people in a new and unique way,” explains Tammy. “MyBudget’s approach had to be different from traditional financial organisations. We didn't want the old bank manager style of interaction with our clients, so we purposely looked for staff members who could relate to others compassionately. For that reason, we recruit people who care about other people.”
Lauren MyBudget

Lauren Clarke, MyBudget’s Customer Service Manager, is no exception from the caring attitude that makes MyBudget different, and she has just celebrated her six year anniversary of employment with the company. “Lauren is an asset to our team,” says Tammy. “She has a 'can do' attitude and she’s wonderful at finding solutions that balance our clients’ needs with those of the business.”

A lot can change in six years. Lauren joined MyBudget in 2005 when the company was staffed by just eight employees who worked from a modest office on the outskirts of Adelaide’s central business district. The team supported around 700 clients.

One of the advantages of joining a rapidly expanding company was that Lauren quickly gained experience in a broad range of areas. She was initially trained as an Account Manager’s Assistant, then as a Bankruptcy Officer and Quality Control Officer. Her excellent administrative skills and strong empathy for clients saw her elevated to Quality Control Manager before being promoted in 2009 to her current role as Customer Service Manager.

Leah McNamara started shortly before Lauren. Today, Leah is MyBudget’s National Service Delivery Manager and Lauren’s supervisor. “I’ve worked with Lauren for six years now,” says Leah, “And I’ve seen her mature through the ranks. She’s extremely hard working and she has a caring attitude towards staff and clients alike. She’s a testament to our core values.”
Today, Lauren manages a team of 36 people made up of customer service, financial analyst and quality control staff who service over 7,000 clients nationally from the company’s head office at MyBudget House in the heart of Adelaide. “When I started, we had four customer service staff, which sounds insane today,” remembers Lauren. “We used to tag-team when we needed a toilet break!”

Demand for MyBudget’s services has seen the company grow to over 120 employees today, spread across multiple offices in South Australia, Victoria, and Queensland. MyBudget will also open branches in New South Wales later this year. Lauren says that she employs one to two new customer service representatives every month to simply keep up with MyBudget’s swift growth.

Rapid expansion is a factor which Lauren says she has become used to, along with constant change which is aimed to continuously improve the standard of service delivered to MyBudget clients. “I’m never bored,” says Lauren. “There’s always a new challenge.”

One of the latest service delivery initiatives is a merger of the account setup and creditor negotiation teams. The aim is to streamline and speed up those processes to further enhance customer satisfaction. This project involves the whole company and each team plays a vital role in the success of improving this process. “If there’s a goal in sight,” explains Lauren, “We will achieve it. There aren’t many other businesses that work like this. We’re like a big family, all heading in the same direction for the benefit of our clients.”

When asked who has been influential in shaping her career at MyBudget, Lauren acknowledges a few key people: “Tammy May is very down-to-earth,” comments Lauren, “You can go to her about anything and she’s always willing to assist. Eddy May has been instrumental in my training and development, and Leah McNamara has been a key person in helping me to succeed—she’s always been a leader to me and someone I can lean on.”

Eddy says of Lauren, “There’s so much to say about Lauren that I don’t know where to start. Lauren only ever wants what’s best and fair for the client and this is what makes her an awesome Customer Service Manager. She’s also amazingly calm under pressure. She’s very well respected by her staff and our management team.”

Lauren says that the thing she loves most about working at MyBudget is the people who touch her life on a daily basis, both clients and colleagues. “Sometimes I see a client record in the database and I think ‘I remember you!’ and I see how much things have improved for them. I get a lot of personal satisfaction from making a difference to people’s lives,” reflects Lauren, “And I feel so lucky that I work with such amazing and inspiring people.”

So what does the future hold for Lauren? One of Lauren’s priorities is to complete a diploma in management which MyBudget is sponsoring. “I want to keep setting a good example for my team and provide them with excellent leadership. I believe that positivity and rewarding your staff when they perform well is very important. I want to continue to develop our staff, help them to further enhance their skills and achieve their career aspirations,” continues Lauren. “After that, I don’t know what the future holds for me. Hopefully even greater things!”
Written by Kylie Hughes, guest writer

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