Rising star: Caroline Brown

What is your current role?

I am an HR adviser for Corus Engineering Steels. I enjoy a generalist role encompassing all aspects of HR in a manufacturing business. I am about to take on a new role.

What qualifications do you hold?

I graduated with a first-class honours degree in HRM in June 2003 from the University of Central Lancashire, and am graduate CIPD qualified. I am currently half way through the CIPD Advanced Certificate in Employment Law course.

Why did you get into HR?

I studied organisational psychology as part of my psychology A-level, and found it fascinating. It all just seemed to make sense to me and I started looking into careers in people management and found out about HR as a profession.

Where did you go from there?

Having picked up on the basic concepts behind people and work, I looked for a degree that would build on my HR interest. I came across a great course that gave me a placement year and membership of the CIPD. I was then fortunate enough to get a 12-month undergraduate placement with Corus and I haven’t looked back.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

I’d like to think I will still be in a generalist HR role, although perhaps with greater emphasis on organisational development and strategic HR activities. However, I’ve found that in this profession opportunities can be varied, so it might come down to which one I am tempted to grab hold of in the next few years.

What has been your biggest career high so far?

I enjoy what I do, so generally I think my career high is knowing that I’ve picked the right career for me. Winning the Corus UK Graduate of the Year award and then the Community Service Recognition award followed by a Pontifex Young Manager award in the space of a week was a great high, but when I look at what other people have achieved I realise I have a lot more to do.

What do you think it takes to succeed in HR?

HR people must know their business and really get to the heart of what the priorities of the business are. There are lots of  ‘nice to do’ things in HR, but delivering solutions that enable the business to deliver have to take priority.

How do you manage relationships with senior executives?

I have a lot of respect for the senior team in my business so I guess I carry that through whenever I deal with them. I’m fortunate to have had a lot of exposure to senior executives from early in my career.

Who is your biggest professional inspiration?

I have been lucky enough to work with a diverse range of superb HR professionals, so it would be impossible to name just one. Although I would like to think that I have learned the best bits of all these professionals, and I am inspired to one day be as impressive to others as they are to me now.

What are today’s big challenges for HR professionals?

First, how we, as professional advisers, manage the tensions between businesses meeting their objectives while complying with employment law. Second, as career paths alter and employees’ demands on work-life balance become more sophisticated, talent management and the development and retention of core people will become more of a challenge.

What advice would you give to graduates considering a career in HR?

First, that HR is not always about the soft and fluffy aspects of people management. It would be a lucky HR person who didn’t have to handle difficult people or organisational change issues in their career. Overall, HR is a very interesting career to be in and, once you are in, the opportunities are there for people with the right skills.

Describe yourself in three words

Professional, passionate, inquisitive. 

Brown’s CV

– 2003 – 2005: HR adviser, Corus Engineering Steels

– June 2003: graduated with first-class degree in HRM, returned to Corus on the Graduate Training Scheme

– 2001- 2002: HR placement at Corus Engineering Steels

Are you a rising star?

Is your career taking off? Do you consider yourself to be a high-flier, or do you work with someone who is? If so, e-mail georgina.fuller@rbi.co.uk with the details


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