Elyssa Figueira

Current Role: Analytics Manager


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Not just a team – a community

 

Since Elyssa joined Tesco, she’s become a manager and a new mum. Here, she discusses how she found returning to work after maternity leave, and the support and flexibility Tesco provided when she needed it.

 

“I joined Tesco as a maths graduate nine years ago, so it’s the only ‘proper’ job I’ve ever had! I absolutely love it. I’ve been an analyst, senior analyst, lead analyst and now I’m a manager. It’s all about getting deep into the data, but also being able to explain it to people. You’re talking about complex matters in a simple way so that colleagues understand it. I really enjoy the teaching side; presenting, feeding back, and adapting your style to different audiences.

 

I’ve grown up within this team. We’ve had some new starters and some leavers, but the feel of the team has stayed the same and I’ve got some really good friendships here. There’s a lot of chat, even when we’re working on our own projects. It’s rarely about work, we just chat about life. And of course, since being back in the office, that close-knit feeling we’ve had has just grown because we’re sitting together, sharing the space, making friends and networking. It’s a really nice environment to be in.  

“Everyone around me was so patient.”

So much has happened since I joined. I’ve got married, had a baby, taken a year off for maternity leave and moved house. I went on leave in October 2020, and my daughter was born in November. I took essentially the full year off, but I was excited to come back to work because it felt a bit like I was reclaiming a little bit of the old me.

 

I came back in a different role, as a lead analyst, and then applied for the manager role when it became available. So, I was learning the ropes. Everyone around me was very patient as my sleep-deprived brain got used to full-time working again! Luckily, there are a few dads in my team who all had a baby within the same couple of months. It was like coming back to a different community, and finding other people who understood the situation I was in and what to expect from me.

“My manager being open helps us all be open, too.”

Coming back to work was, for me, like trying to balance being a parent in the evenings and mornings and then being busy with work in-between. So I chatted to people who’d been in that same situation, and talked to my manager, and we agreed to set the expectation that once that out of office goes on, people aren’t getting a response from me. The support from my line manager was great. He’s brilliant. He’s got an eight-year-old son, and a three-year-old daughter already, so as a parent he knows exactly what I’m going through and is very understanding. He knows from his own experiences what support is needed.

 

If my daughter was sent home from nursery because she wasn’t well, there’d be no fuss because there are so many parents in our team that people have been in that situation before. I’m trusted to still get the work done; they know that I’ll do it. I also have regular catch ups with my manager. I know that if I need to talk to him, I can send him a message and he’ll find the time. He’s set a great example for the team. The school run is in his diary, and everyone can see it and knows that he won’t be available for those 20 minutes a day. Because he’s open, it helps everyone else to be open, too. It takes the weight off your mind because you’re not having to hide anything. So I always try and be my authentic self, whether that’s as a mum, a vegan, an analyst, or as a woman in tech.

“Being aware of other peoples’ beliefs means a lot.”

I’m an ethical vegan. That means I don’t eat any animal products, so no meat, fish, dairy, eggs or honey, but I also don’t wear leather, silk or wool. I do it for ethical reasons rather than strictly environmental ones. Me and my husband are vegan, and we’re bringing our daughter up vegan until she’s old enough to make that decision for herself. At work, you need people to know because if there’s a meal out planned or people bring cakes in, and I decline, it’s not because I don’t like what they’ve made.

 

The Tesco canteens now do a vegan option, and recently I organised a picnic and we did a bring and share. People brought vegan options, which I was so grateful for. Likewise, we had Muslim team members so we wouldn’t go out during Ramadan, because it would be a bit unfair if they were fasting. Or, we wouldn’t have any alcohol-based events. It’s just being more mindful about what people enjoy or don’t enjoy, agree with or don’t agree with. Being aware of other people means a lot.

“Tesco is a place where I can be myself.”

My team is so open and honest, and we’re comfortable talking to each other about difficult subjects. For the first four months of my daughter’s life, I wasn’t in a good place. Was it postnatal depression? Probably. It was definitely anxiety and I had counselling to help me through it. When people ask how maternity leave was, I say it got better. Every month was better than the previous one, and just talking and being open helps. Across Tesco, there’s a lot of focus on mental health and wellbeing to raise awareness of what support is available.

 

Throughout my time at Tesco, I’ve only ever been myself. I don’t have to hide anything; I can be open and have those conversations. The more we talk, the easier things become. And the more open we are, the less we have to hide. I’ve found that Tesco is a place where I can be myself, and I hope others find that as well."

Everyone’s welcome at Tesco. We’re there for our people, whatever life brings. So we’ll do everything we can to support you. To help make sure you always feel comfortable being yourself at work, and that you’ve got what you need to develop and grow with us.

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