Rising star – Michael Coles

What is your current role?

I am an HR manager for law firm Bevan Brittan. I look after all operational HR issues for both the London and Birmingham offices, and ensure consistent alignment of HR initiatives with the head office based in Bristol.

What qualifications do you hold?

I hold a BA (Hons) in business studies and a postgraduate diploma in HR management, which has led to my graduate CIPD status.

Why did you get into HR?

It may be an old clich, but for me it is all about the people. Without people, in any business, you will fail. They are a fundamental resource in shaping a profitable business. It’s because of this that I love working in HR, as it enables you to have a key influence in shaping business success.

How did you get into HR?

I completed a university placement within the Forte Hotel Group during the takeover bid from Granada and Gerry Robinson. This process demonstrated the hard reality of HR and how business decisions can affect both a company and people’s lives. From this moment, I knew I wanted to be involved within a department that can make a fundamental difference to a business.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

I would like to see myself at the forefront of developing new HR initiatives within the workplace and to become recognised as a key player within the field of HR.

What has been your biggest career high so far?

Joining Bevan Brittan as HR manager. This position has given me the chance to apply my previous experience and knowledge in developing the HR function further. It is an extremely exciting time within the firm, and to be a part of this progression for the HR function within the two offices is a great opportunity.

What do you think it takes to succeed in HR?

Patience – people are never an easy commodity to deal with, wherever you work. I also feel that you need to have an overall commercial awareness of the business you work within, and to remain open to ideas and suggestions.

How do you manage relationships with senior executives?

It is about establishing credibility and believing in yourself and your own views and abilities. If they can also see that you have the company’s best interests at the forefront of your suggestions, they are more likely to back your ideas. An element of humour can also help out on occasions.

Who is your biggest professional inspiration?

Richard Branson, because of his originality and for the importance he places on his staff within all of his business interests.

What are today’s big challenges for HR professionals?

HR is now becoming more accountable within the workplace and the focus is shifting towards providing a ‘value added’ resource with strategic emphasis. HR professionals need to understand and adopt this model quickly to succeed and remain credible within the workplace.

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

If you would like a role that teaches you about all aspects of a business or an industry sector, then I would definitely recommend HR as a career. This awareness and understanding is key in becoming a credible HR professional. I would also advise not to become too specialised too quickly within the field of HR.

Describe yourself in three words

Approachable, adaptable and realistic.


2005-present HR manager, Bevan Brittan LLP
2004-2005 HR adviser, Harrods
2001-2004 HR officer, Harrods
2000 HR officer, Marriott/ Whitbread Hotel Group
1996 HR assistant, university placement with Forte/ Granada

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