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Michelle Bellagamba - Acting Contract Manager

Name, Job Title, Years in Serco

Michelle Bellagamba, Acting Contract Manager, 8 years in Serco

Tell us a little bit about your role.

I am currently responsible for managing the daily operations at one of our Abu Dhabi-based university contracts. I ensure all deliverables are met whilst covering stakeholder engagement, operational performance, customer satisfaction, safety and security. I am responsible for the effective management of a team of 30 staff and an additional 84 contractors. I really enjoy the variety and the daily challenges that the role brings.


Describe your career progression, and what has supported you to progress to a senior position?

I began my career in the UK in 1998, initially in catering then I moved into facilities management.

In 2014, I joined Serco as soft services manager and have assisted on multiple Serco contracts across Abu Dhabi and Dubai during my tenure.

I was nominated for the Serco Accelerator Programme with Hult Ashridge Executive Education as a high performer last year. During this time I was also appointed to my first contract manager role on a 6-month project to assist with mobilisation and manage a helpdesk for a prestigious client in Abu Dhabi.

I have recently been assigned to manage the daily operations at the university as an acting contract manager.

At Serco, 50% of our Executive Management Team is made up of females – how do you feel the business has supported you?

At Serco, I have never felt that my gender was an issue or barrier to progression. We have amazing, capable women in our business who are treated with great respect and equality.

I have had incredible support from my line managers (past and present) and from the Executive Leadership Team members, both male and female, whilst working for Serco.  

What barriers have you personally faced in your career when progressing into senior positions, and what advice would you give to others to overcome these?

One of my major challenges to progress was related to confidence. I worked hard to build the confidence and self-belief to leave my comfort zone and stretch my abilities to progress and climb the corporate ladder, without the fear of failure.

There is always so much to learn. Proving your capability to yourself and others in a new role can be a real challenge.

My advice to others would be to simply have the confidence in your own ability and don’t be afraid to fail. How you deal with and learn from setbacks will determine your success in the future.

What do you think makes a good leader?

A good leader aligns their behaviour with the company values and always leads by example. They create an environment of trust by being fair, consistent and they always act with integrity, dignity and respect. They encourage innovation, giving team members the freedom and latitude to share their ideas and opinions. A good leader coaches, mentors and nurtures talent, pushes their team forward and doesn’t place barriers in their way. A leader should develop and train their team so they have the opportunity to leave, but should treat them well enough so they don’t.

How do you balance work and life responsibilities?

I think it is important that all employees have a good work-life balance to ensure each element of their life isn’t negatively affected by the other. There will be times when this balance is out of order but having the ability to recognise and correct the balance is an important characteristic of any individual.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

The highlight of my career took place last year when I was appointed to my first contract manager role, leading a team of 142 call centre agents to deliver a very successful 6-month helpdesk contract.

Within a short space of time, these total strangers had a bond that I have never witnessed before. Building that team and witnessing their excellent performance made me so proud.

Who inspires you and why?

My father inspires me. He was an extremely well-educated teacher of languages who struggled as a young man to get into one of the most prestigious universities in the UK. He did this through very hard work and dedication despite coming from a poor family who struggled financially during the war. His work ethic and general attitude to life has inspired me throughout my career. He was a true inspiration to me and he used his teaching methods to equip me with the life skills I have today.

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders in Serco?

Surround yourself with capable people, take the support your team has to offer, build good relationships by delivering on promises, work hard and believe in yourself!