Celebrating our 2023 All Stars: Samantha Oakley-Watson

At Three, we know the importance of recognising our people. Our 3Celebrates programme is our way of celebrating our people for living our values.

Throughout the year, employees send each other ‘thank you’ cards to show their appreciation of the work they have done. Anyone who receives a thanks can be selected as a Monthly Star, Annual Star or All Star and can receive special recognition along with financial awards.

At the end of last year, we announced our 2023 All Stars. Our All Stars are the individuals, stores and teams who truly excelled in living our Values.

All Stars were nominated by the Leadership teams and all their Thanks were reviewed by a judging panel of people from across the business.

Becoming an All Star is an amazing achievement, and we want to celebrate and learn more about the winners. Over the coming year, we’ll be interviewing our 2023 All Stars and the next in our series is Sam Oakley-Watson.

Sam’s cards showed what energy, passion and drive she has in all her work. Her work across EVP, Wellbeing and DIB displays her ongoing commitment to ensure we do the best for our people and her team love working with such an awesome, uplifting and enthusiastic colleague.

Tell us about your role and your career to date at Three.

My role at Three has been one filled with change that has created opportunities for me and really pushed me to develop my career. I came from a consultancy background and was attracted by the opportunity to really get under the skin of one brand and essentially practise what I was preaching. I wanted to be part of the progress of a company.  I originally joined what was the ‘People Experience team’ that sits in the People Function with a role focused on bringing the brand to life through employee experiences, and this gave me an instant understanding of the culture here at Three, and I knew immediately I had joined a great company.

Since then, I have had lots of role changes but they have all centred around connecting people with our culture and creating a better future for work. I have been lucky enough to be able to work with a range of managers who I have learnt so many different things from – all very different styles that have meant I have been able to grow and develop my own leadership style, and I am very grateful for their support.

I now lead the People Propositions Team for the UK where we design and embed employee offerings that bring to life our People Promise to enhance employees experiences of working at Three, where everyone can thrive and feel they belong.

How did being awarded an All Star make you feel and what does it mean to you?

Being awarded the All Star at the end of the year was a complete shock (as everyone always says) and similarly to Rachel one of the other All Stars I was unknowingly sat at the front at Green Park on the day. I felt really privileged as we have so many talented people that work here but pleased that it helped raise the profile of the work in inclusion and wellbeing that we have done, and a chance to celebrate the efforts of our small but mighty team who impress me every day.

It had been quite an intense year for me both at work with a huge priority list and new role, as well as at home – where I was juggling going part time and then full time again to balance childcare and my caring responsibilities for my Deaf son, going through IVF (thank goodness for our new fertility leave offer and my managers support – without it I would have been lost), and then being pregnant with baby number two (I actually go off on maternity today, 14th March!). It made me feel recognised for my efforts and lucky to be supported as a working mother by a Business who really does care.

What are your favourite things about working at Three?

My favourite thing without a doubt about working at Three is the culture and the People – we are so lucky to work somewhere where we can be ourselves as well as having so many opportunities to make an impact and bring our strengths to the table. Having worked here 4.5 years no matter how much change we face we come together and get things done – we might be fast paced, but we are agile and human in our approach. I felt at home from day one and have learnt a lot from working here.

What do our values mean to you and which one do you most connect with?

We work as one Team – for me collaboration is so key and something I really value, and enjoy (a far cry from the kid that struggled with group projects at school!). I love to be challenged and discussing ideas and really believe by being inclusive of different peoples’ views and perspectives we can learn so much. I am lucky within my role that I have many ‘teams’ that I get to work with across the Business – from committees, to networks, to working groups to my immediate Team and Function. Life really does need a big network, and I’m never short of people to send a 3Celebrates thank you card to!

What is the best career advice you ever received?

The best advice I have received is ‘don’t be a foregone conclusion’ – my mind works at a million miles an hour and I have a tendency to map out all eventualities before they have happened and form a plan and 99% of the time that may work out and helps me be efficient, but actually the magic happens in the 1% when we let things play out and give things a chance to organically develop – it can make your inner control freak squirm but it really is true!

Have you any plans for spending your All Star award?

After a 2.5 year long nightmare to move house I finally moved into a renovation project 3 weeks ago – yes I am crazy with baby on the way, but we are so happy to finally be getting settled – so I treated us to a new oven as we race to finish the kitchen before baby is here! It arrives today and after 3 weeks of no oven I am excited about eating something with some crisp (shout out to my sister who also works at Three for lending us her air fryer).

Get newsletter alerts

Add your email address to stay up to date with the Three Media Centre.