We continue our series of interviews with senior HR figures by talking to Andrew Lawson, head of people at restaurant group Drake and Morgan.
How did you get into HR?
I've worked in operational roles within the hospitality industry for a number of years - everything from film catering to events and coffee bars to restaurants. My last operational role was with Pret A Manager as a general manager. I loved the people aspect of my role and decided to try and pursue a career within training and development. My lucky break came when I found a great start up role with a small soup chain called SoupWorks. I was their first personnel and training manager. With that business I started my Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development qualifications and then it progressed from there. Eventually I moved into retail HR with ASDA and never looked back. I was responsible for the redesign of the apprentice recruitment programme at Fifteen restaurant and was also head of people at Coffee Republic. I'm happy to be back in the world of hospitality!
What do you enjoy most about HR?
I guess I really love the interaction with people at all levels of the business - from MDs all the way down to our wonderful kitchen porters. The opportunity to be both strategic and operational and the sheer variety of skills that I draw on every day is also really satisfying. It takes a huge amount of effort to become proficient and effective in all aspects of the job. I've worked for some brilliant businesses and constantly build on my skillset. I never stop learning.
What do you find most difficult about working in HR?
There are always day-to-day tasks, which are really critical to get right. They're not always the most interesting, but they are important for functional credibility. People - and people decisions - are complex so you have to be exact and precise. It's not a natural thing for some people and it takes concentration.
What do you consider to be your greatest career achievement?
I'm lucky that there are lots of great things I can be proud of. Here at Drake & Morgan, I think we've put together a fantastic team and we're delivering on all levels. A good plan - well executed. We held our end of year conference a couple of months ago and we stood back