Anna Fritz went through a major career change in 2010 before joining EAL as head of product. After spending a decade working for international media companies including The Economist, Newsweek and Euronews TV as an advertising and marketing research manager, Anna joined the education sector as a strategist, working for OCR-Cambridge Assessment focusing on the general qualification market later pivoting strongly towards the vocational sector as a senior manager in the product and industry team at City and Guilds.
Now responsible for increasing accessibility to EAL product and services, Anna is committed to building a product strategy that will meet future skills demands emerging from Industry 4.0 and the climate emergency.
We caught up with Anna to find out what a typical day for her is like as part of the EAL team.
Describe your average day…
With two school-age children in the household, I never know what the day will be like. I am an early riser, up by 5.30am because that is what my body clock wants me to do. This is nice, especially in the summer when I read a bit or sit in the garden with a cup of coffee when the house is quiet.
Working flexibly due to child-care responsibilities, I’ll start work early, typically well before 8am so I can finish early on some days to manage various support interventions my children with learning difficulties need. Frequent breaks, lunch, and a quick walk with the dog in the middle of the day help to keep me focused and efficient at work.
In the evenings we like family time with a nice meal and time to talk and catch up with one another. I tend to go to bed early when there is not much on TV, sometimes reading two books per week which is my trusted go-to activity to unwind and relax.
Tell us how you came to be in this role.
My previous roles were both with larger-scale Awarding Organisations, so I felt working for a specialised outfit will allow me to learn more about how things are done on a different scale and expand my skill set. I thought I had many skills and experiences relevant to the role to make a difference.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
I have a passion for strategy and planning, and I enjoy moments when I need to show up for the team as a leader, not just a manager. I love seeing my team happy and settled in their roles. I get a lot of satisfaction by enabling my team members to progress in their careers, whether in-company or outside – we are all on a journey.
What three skills do you think you need in your role?
Resilience is right up there; the pace of work can be punishing sometimes and the ability to handle stress is key. Empathy – without it one cannot succeed in roles with people management. Ability to see the big picture with all the complex elements in play.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Making sense of the funding streams.
What is the key to nurturing relationships with customers?
Listening and understanding their worries, needs, wants, and wishes. Helping them when they need support.
What do you wish you’d known when you started out in your career that you know now?
Working hard, at times too hard, at the detriment of maintaining a good level of well-being can actually make you look lacking at best, and incompetent at worst. Being more balanced in your approach to hard work can actually help, in addition to preserving your sanity, eye health and greying hair.
How would you describe the team at EAL?
Dedicated, professional and knowledgeable team of professionals who always try their absolute best.
What’s your biggest achievement so far?
Maintaining a happy and healthy family life as well as a challenging and fulfilling career.
Why would you recommend working at EAL?
EAL overall offers a friendly and inclusive working environment with a varied workload and exposure to some interesting challenges and projects. I love the people, and I feel at home here already after only four months or so in the post.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Reading is my number one hobby – I am a voracious reader! I love a good detective novel or any fiction really. I love spending time outside, gardening or walking my dog. Cooking and food is also important – I enjoy spending time cooking, improvising and putting a nice plate of food out for my family and friends. Travelling energises me, I am curious about other cultures and places in this wonderful world we live in.
What was the last film you watched?
Top Gun: Maverick – a bit of a nostalgia piece. Entertaining though predictable.
If you could meet one famous person, who would it be?
Harriet Tubman – a fascinating woman activist who was born a slave but escaped and became an abolitionist. Her bravery and determination led her to be the person responsible for safe houses known as The Underground Railroad.
If you could go back into any period of time, which year would you choose and why?
2014 – to take my mother to the hospital on time to treat her heart attack.