Celebrating Mel Smith-Kerry | IWD

For International Women's Day 2022, we decided to celebrate successful women in our business, get to know them and promote their achievements both inside and outside of the workplace.

Can you give me a summary of your job at Invision?

My job title at Invision is Sales Office Manager, so I'm directly responsible for the internal sales team. I look after the day-to-day running of those guys, I wouldn't say managing them as such, I like to say that I work alongside them.

How long have you worked there?

I've been at Invision for 3 years, but I've been part of the Midwich Group for 16 years.

How have you progressed into your role today?

So, I started in the new business team a Midwich with Scott Norman. I worked my way up to team leader and lead the new business, business development and fast response teams.

I went on maternity leave with my first little boy and, I think I'm probably the only person in history to do this, but I returned with a promotion as Sales Manager.

I then left to go on maternity leave for the second time and Tom Hawes stepped up into my role in my absence. When I came back, I worked with Claire Wattam for a while and then shortly moved over to Invision.

What made you want to move over to Invision, from Midwich?

After having the boys, I just felt like I needed a new challenge. I could have come back into my old role, but Tom was doing such a good job that I didn't really want to. It just felt right for him to stay in that role, he deserved to.

I sat with Claire for a bit and I just knew that wasn't right because I wanted a direct sales role and then the opportunity came up at Invision and it just seemed right.

What has been the most significant challenge you’ve faced at work?

Actually, my biggest challenge happened whilst at Invision when we moved the office from Bury to Diss.

That was a massive challenge in my career. It came with a lot of sort of personal responsibility and so many challenges with individuals.

It had an impact on people so differently. Some people really embraced it, it's what they wanted, and it was a pleasure to give them that opportunity. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there were some real challenges. Some people had worked at Invision for years, in the Bury office. They lived in Bury. They worked in Bury. Their family were in Bury. They never really went out of Bury and we kind of rocked their world with that announcement.

What’s a quote that you live by?

The phrase that I probably use the most is…

“If you can't change it, don't worry about it.”

I'm a really anxious person and I will worry about everything that I can and more. Recently, I’ve taken in the mindset that if I can't change it, what is the point in investing my energy into worrying about it?

What are you investing your energy into at the moment?

My boys are a massive priority, they are always at the forefront of my mind.

I am a big exercise fanatic, but I've lost that a little bit in the last few months, so actually I've started to get myself back into that and have started to run again. I’ve also been focusing on ensuring I am eating better and drinking less.

Something new that I am trying is reading. Mark Cummins recommended a book called Good Vibes, Good Life, which is a personal development book.

How do you feel about working in a predominantly male industry?

I started in the industry when I was 20 years old, so it's kind of all that I know now. I don't really know any different. I was also brought up in a male environment, I lived with my brother and my dad from the age of 13, so I've always been in a more male-oriented environment.

There definitely have been challenges. There are people that you come across who perhaps entered the industry when it was less diverse but you just have to remain strong and not let it get to you.

I love to take on a challenge, so for me, it’s not about backing down, it’s about proving the point that I am the best person for the job.

What’s your favourite thing about working in the industry?

I think for me it is the number of different people that you meet, every project and jobs our customers work on are so different. I guess working across Midwich and Invision as well, I've gone from the commercial side in all different areas, right through to the residential side, which is a completely different ball game.

In our industry, you can pick up the phone one day and you're talking to someone who's run their own business, they’ve done it for 50 years, and it's only them. The next day. You could be speaking to the Managing Director of multi-million-pound business. It's just so diverse and I love that.

What have you found challenging about remote and hybrid working?

Not being face-to-face with people is really difficult for me, and in my job trying to train people and develop them. It's really challenging remotely. You miss so much by not being there overhearing conversations and being submersed in situations that you just don't get when you're at home.

For me as well, the relationship building with the guys you know, even just being back in the office these last few weeks, the banter and just getting to know them and understand them. It's so much easier when you're all together.

What do you enjoy about hybrid working?

Working from home definitely stopped the morning rush.

Squeezing everything in before you leave and then that 25-minute commute. That has been a challenge these last few weeks, just to try and add that bit into your day. Also, remote working just slowed the pace down a bit. I think the whole of lockdown has done that. It made us realise that we don't need to go 1000 miles an hour all the time.

I definitely enjoyed having that extra hour in my day where I'm not sitting in the car. The amount of stuff that you can get done, even if it's just 10 minutes to take a quiet coffee, it’s so valuable having that time to kind of pause and reflect.

What's the next goal that you’re working towards?

I really want to knuckle down and get my career fully back on track. My boys are older now. They're both at school. I'm on my own now, so it's about really proving myself.

Mark Cummins and I are talking about a few things professionally. I definitely want to be back in front of customers more. That's a work goal for sure. I've already started doing a bit of that this year and I've absolutely thrived off of it. I love it, so that's definitely on the radar.


International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women's achievements or rally for women's equality. 

International Women's Day has occurred for well over a century with the first gathering held in 1911. The campaign theme for International Women's Day 2022 is #BreakTheBias. Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. Knowing that bias exists isn't enough. Action is needed to level the playing field.