Change is coming: Will you be part of it?

Emily, Client and Operations Lead at Poppy's, London funeral directors

Three minute read

Emily is Poppy’s Client & Operations Lead. We’re looking for someone to take on her role while she is on maternity leave. Here, Emily tells us what the job is really like, what she’s learnt so far during her time at Poppy’s so far and why she enjoys talking to people about working in death care.

Client & Operations Lead: Find out more and apply now

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d work for a funeral director, especially as I had no professional experience whatsoever of funerals. Until I worked here, I had never even seen someone after they had died. Previously, when family members had died, I had always said ‘no’ to the opportunity of visiting them. Since working here, my view has completely changed. Now, I’d want to be as involved as possible.

Most people find the idea of where I work really uncomfortable. They deal with that awkwardness through humour. I get asked ‘do you wear a top hat and carry a cane’? Even if said in jest, it shows that people are uncomfortable with talking about death. But I love those conversations. They give me a chance to explain how Poppy’s is different.

Before coming to Poppy’s, I worked as a consultant. In consultancy, you make recommendations, but someone else carries them out. Working here is very different — I’m part of the conversation about what needs to be done, how to do it, then I actually get to make it happen. It’s much more rewarding to know my ideas will definitely be carried through.

This role is really, really varied. You can't plan your week in detail, in advance. You will never cross off everything on your ‘to do’ list. There will always be urgent, operational things to deal with. I support the team in any challenges they face and make sure everything is in place for them to do their job well. It's important to balance the day-to-day operational work with a forward-looking focus on long-term strategy.

There has been so much change at Poppy’s in the last year — a new CEO, our founder Poppy moving into a new role, and my role being created, as well as changes in ways of working. This role is about finding ways to help the team deal with change. Things often come up that none of us have dealt with before. That’s good — it gives us a list of things we need to solve, now and in the longer term.

You can't lead a team unless you understand the ins and outs of what they do. You've got to be comfortable getting stuck in, not just observing. Going out on funerals and spending time in the mortuary right from the start was hugely important for me. The team was so willing to help me learn and explain things to me. They are the experts.

It has been important for me to understand the different things that motivate each individual in the team, including our flexible team of practical leads. We are so diverse, but what unites us all is that we all want to do a good job and provide the best possible care.

Working here has definitely shaped my ideas about my own funeral. I’ve also been trying to talk to family members about their choices, some don't want to talk but others do. I’d definitely want a natural burial, if something like Recompose is not yet up and running. But the funeral is not for me, it's for the people in my life. I trust them to put together what they will need to help them and something which is an honest reflection of me. There's nothing I feel should or shouldn't be done, only that they should do whatever feels right, however weird or conventional. They should make their own decisions.

If this role interests you, don't be afraid to go for it, don't worry about what other people think. If I had listened to what other people told me, I wouldn't be here. So many small businesses were created to challenge the conventions in their sector. Poppy’s is just the same. The funeral sector needs a massive revamp, and you could be part of bringing in those fresh ideas. Change is coming. And fast.

Client & Operations Lead: Find out more and apply now

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