Case study

Helen Gilmartin — City Manager, Bristol

Sixt rent a car

How did you get your job?

I was contacted by Sixt and invited for an interview after graduating with a 2:2 in physiotherapy from the University of Birmingham. After a successful interview with the regional manager, I was offered the position of Rental Sales Agent at the soon to be Sheffield branch.

During my time here, I was promoted to the role of Senior Rental Sales Agent and Supervisor, which was when I decided that I really wanted to make a career out of working for Sixt.

I enrolled onto the Operational Management Trainee programme with the goal of becoming a Junior Branch Manager as quickly as possible. I worked across the country in locations such as Luton, Aberdeen, Birmingham and Manchester. The flexibility allowed me to learn so much about what makes Sixt successful.

Around ninemonths into the programme, a Junior Branch Manager role came up. I was appointed my own branch, and felt like a true business leader only two years out of university.

After this I took a Junior Branch Manager role back in Sheffield. Shortly after, I was approached internally to help open a new branch in Bristol. I took the opportunity to relocate and become a Branch Manager.

A year after relocating I'm now the City Manager for Bristol, responsible for the Downtown and Airport location.

What’s a typical day like as a City Manager?

A large part of my role is spending time with the teams at my locations that deliver the experience for our customers. At Sixt we really value the difference that outstanding sales and service can make to a customers experience with us, so I make that come alive for my teams - whether I'm coaching and training or giving feedback through one-to-ones and appraisals. I'm approachable and always available for my team, which is what makes me a strong people manager. My tasks include talking to my colleagues at Headquarters in Germany about yield, and how we can best place ourselves in the competitive market of car and van rental, and reviewing budgets, and where we are against my target plan. I love that I have the autonomy to run my branch like a business owner, but focusing on costs ensures success.

I also roll up my sleeves and help with deliveries and collections for our customers, and wash and prepare our cars to a premium standard.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I feel like I run my own business - I'm an entrepreneur in my own right! Sixt guides me through the correct processes and methods, and the support from our head office is amazing. I have the freedom to lead my branch where I see it will be most successful.

In addition, being part of a family-owned company means a family feel runs through everything we do. In the UK we work as one big team, and a lot of the time you meet the people that help to make the big things happen.

What are your challenges?

A lot of the time your days can be unpredictable - you need to be prepared to adapt and change plans. You also need a solution-focused, problem-solving mind set to overcome obstacles that arise in delivering a premium experience for our customers.

In what way was your degree relevant?

I learnt a lot of time management, communication and organisational skills from my degree, which I put into practice every day in the workplace. Regardless of the subject you studied, there are many things to take from a degree and apply to an operational working environment.

How has your role developed and what are your future career ambitions?

My role has developed immensely, even in just the last year of working in Bristol. I've taken overall ownership of the Airport and Bristol City Centre locations.

My future ambition is to build a network of branches in the South West, and to become an area or executive manager. I feel empowered that the Leadership team believe in me to set a vision, and that they'll support and guide me along the way.

Find out more

  • Learn more about working for Sixt.