00:00:03 My name is Altaf K. I’m a shift manager at London South mail centre. My team consists of a hundred and fifty to two hundred people. Also, four managers work for me as well. Our job is to manage that mail when it arrives in the mail centre, get it processed, sorted and dispatched. The mail really picks up coming to the mail centre from five o’clock onwards. It’s really busy. You can imagine all the businesses and offices closing at that time of day. That’s when the drivers collect the mail and it starts coming back. It’s really busy, hectic from five o’clock onwards, right up until ten really.
00:00:40 It’s definitely a challenge, and that’s the most thing I enjoy is the challenge. The end goal, at the end of the night when we’ve cleared the mail centre, you can put your feet up and say ‘Well done, you’ve had a good day today.’
00:00:53 I was actually born in Pakistan. I grew up in a small village, mainly countryside. My family are mainly farmers… the background were farmers. But my father came here in the sixties, and in the mid-seventies, when I was about fourteen, somebody… I think nineteen seventy-four, it was the beginning for me. I couldn’t speak a word of English, so obviously I had to work hard to learn English to start with, and then I went to school and college after that. I used to go to normal secondary school and there was a special language centre that we used to attend, all the children who couldn’t speak English. Yes, I would have said that was the biggest change in my life, you know, in terms of the family move.
00:01:37 After I left college then I joined Royal Mail. I’ve been with this business ever since. I worked my way up from a part-time postman. Since then I’ve obviously progressed from various rates in terms of management skills. Then I worked on nightshift for about nine years; trying to sleep in the day time was very difficult, you know, with the light. First it was bright light and then I had to go and buy myself some dark curtains to make sure I don’t see the light, make it artificially dark in the room. It took me a good couple of months, two or three months to get into some sort of routine. So, yes, it was difficult.
00:02:15 My father worked in a factory here, and my brothers and sisters are mostly… they’re grown, anyway. They are older than me, two years older than me. They just settled in and they worked whatever jobs they could get into. Obviously, I didn’t have the opportunity to go to university, so obviously I gave my children the opportunity to do that. I always encourage them. My eldest son is twenty now, and even before he went to university where he is now, prior to that I used to encourage him to give him private tuition. I was prepared to pay for private education for him in order for him to make sure he got some good education behind him. He’s done well. He’s at university now. As I said, my second daughter is eighteen. Hopefully she’s going to be going to university next year as well.
00:03:01 Spare time… I watch plenty of sport. I like watching football, cricket. I like driving, so… I enjoy my car, so I change my car year if I can, if I’ve got the money. My religious life plays a big part in my life as well because I’m a Muslim. I like to pray and make sure that, you know, I don’t miss my prayers. Even at work here, I’ve got the facilities here. I spend plenty of time, as I said, with my family. I go to the Mosque when I can.
00:03:34 Five year’s time, I’m looking at where I am now, just to progress further if I can where I am. I’m quite satisfied, to be honest. If I don’t really, you know, aim for the highest, I’m quite satisfied. I’m content with where I am, to be honest. I feel I’ve done well, you know, to get to even where I am now because it’s all with hard work and dedication and trying to learn for myself really.
Altaf K is a Shift Manager at South London Mail Centre, supervising a shift of 150-200 people. This isn’t the career he was expecting when he was growing up in a farming community in Pakistan. His priority at the moment is to see that his own children get the opportunity to go to university.
More information about Postal workers, mail sorters, messengers and couriers
The UK average salary is £28,758
There are 37.5 hours in the average working week
The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male
- Collects mail from post boxes, receives parcels, and collects correspondence, documents and other material from individuals, offices or other establishments;
- Sorts mail, parcels and other incoming and outgoing material for delivery, and maintains records of material received and despatched;
- Delivers mail, parcels, correspondence and other materials to specified or agreed routes and schedules;
- Completes delivery forms, collects charges, and issues receipts for the collection and delivery of registered or recorded mail and other items.
Related career stories
From personal careers advice to finding work, see our round-up of
useful websites to help you on your way