Who We Are – Lara

Handed a vital new project when the pandemic hit, Lara has been enthralled by our response

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed all of our lives and for Lara Gavillet, that change has been a seismic one when it comes to life at Royal Mail.

The parcels product manager spearheads our Covid-19 test kits project, which has seen us develop a collections service from homes and priority postboxes, add a bespoke weekend collections service and now we’ve won a contract to start delivering them to homes, too, seven days a week.

Lara has been with Royal Mail for the past 17 years and is a perfect example of someone who has taken full advantage of the opportunities the business has provided her. And it means she’s deserving of being the latest colleague in the spotlight as part of our Who We Are campaign.

Who We Are celebrates our key workers – connecting communities, before and during the Covid-19 pandemic – and beyond as well. We’re recognising people at the heart of our business, across the pipeline, as they describe who they are in their own words.

We want to receive nominations from around the Group for deserving colleagues to be recognised in this way. Send yours to communications@royalmail.com.

‘I joined the business as a part-time OPG at North West Midlands Mail Centre (NWMMC) when I was 20,’ said Lara. ‘It was a second job for me, and I was on the late shift. I never planned to stay here. My plan was to save a bit of money, go travelling and join the police – that’s what I wanted to do.

‘I stayed for two years, went travelling for five months, and then came back and successfully applied for a permanent work area manager role. When talk started around parcels automation, my shift manager gave me the chance to run what was my first project – to introduce what was then called a parcel sort conveyer into NWMMC.

‘I’ve now been running projects for 12 years.’

It was Good Friday when Lara took the Covid-19 test kits helm. Within just four days, she and her team had established a home collections service.

‘To establish a home collections service for test kits within a matter of days was a massive achievement,’ said Lara. ‘As is giving customers access to more than 35,000 priority postboxes to return their test kits – with more than 90 per cent of customers having access to one within a mile of their address. On top of that, both these services are now available seven days a week – there’s no one else who could do that.

‘We’re in continuous dialogue with the Department for Health & Social Care (DHSC). They’re reacting to what the Government and the Prime Minister are saying. Due to the changing nature of the pandemic, nobody has had all the answers. We’ve all had to deal with that ambiguity about not knowing what tomorrow’s going to bring, never mind next week, or month.

‘Usually with projects, there’s a lot of planning and design and preparing the ground, but we’ve had no time for any of that. Basically, we’ve been designing and deploying in parallel with what’s been happening in real time, which is obviously unprecedented in projects, and certainly, far outside the comfort zone of most project managers!’


Lara reserves most of her praise for the frontline colleagues who have implemented our response in such challenging circumstances.

‘The response we’ve had from Operations has been nothing short of outstanding,’ she said. ‘The pride our frontline people have in the knowledge that they’re supporting the country with something so vital during this time…there are no words for it to be honest.

‘In terms of our future flightpath, for the time being at least, testing is very much here to stay and something that’s crucial for everyone. We’re reacting to the day to day, but we’re also planning for the months ahead.

‘One of the real key achievements for me is how well we have worked with our unions, both the CWU and CMA Unite. They have been with us every step of the way. We talk to them at least once a week about what we’re planning to do. We listen to their views and we do things together. This project is proof that things can be done successfully in a joint way.’

Team effort

‘I’ve been working with an amazing and extremely committed team during this time. I couldn’t have done this without them. It’s required some real commitment from them. It’s been a real team effort across the board and it just proves what we can do when we put our minds to it.

‘I’ve been speaking to people I never knew existed in the business. People like the street furniture teams, the people who cut the keys to the postboxes, the people who print labels, all sorts of departments that I’ve never even thought of. It really has been a huge collaboration, bringing all those key strands together.

‘Royal Mail is a wonderful company that really does provide opportunities for people who want them.’

1 Dec 2020