What is your current role?
I am an HR officer of European operations at ATI Allvac, a speciality metals producer. I work in the HR function that serves four offices – two in the UK (Sheffield and Birmingham) and one each in France and Germany.
What qualifications do you hold?
I graduated from Dearne Valley Business School, part of Hull University, with a degree in business and personnel and the graduate CIPD qualification in 2003.
Why did you get into HR?
I wanted a job that interested me and was different every day. I certainly get that variety in HR.
How did you get into HR?
When I started my business degree, I found the HR modules really interesting and managed to switch to business and personnel in my first year. My degree was CIPD graduate accredited and included a 12-month work placement, which I spent at Christian Salvesen working as an HR assistant.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I would like to be happy and interested in my work, with a good work-life balance. As long as I have this I don’t mind where I am.
What has been your biggest career high so far?
It’s nice to be able to help people who aren’t necessarily able to help themselves. It’s always very satisfying when an employee comes back to you and tells you that your advice has sorted out their problem.
What do you think it takes to succeed in HR?
You have to be concerned about an employee’s needs while simultaneously protecting the interests of the company. Sometimes you can’t do both and you need the skill of balancing these two factors to succeed in HR.
How do you manage relationships with senior executives?
In my experience, good senior managers want to be treated like all other employees. It’s lonely at the top if nobody dares speak to you in the corridor or crack a joke in the canteen. Treating the senior management team with the same respect you give to all other employees is the key.
Who is your biggest professional inspiration?
My first HR manager, Judith Clarkson, taught me how to remain professional when dealing with people who weren’t. It’s a skill a lot of people don’t necessarily have.
What are today’s big challenges for HR professionals?
The biggest challenge is remaining competitive while complying with current legislation. Sometimes it’s too easy for the HR professional to say you can’t do that because of this act and this precedent case, without actually considering it from the manager’s perspective. Finding a good, legally viable solution is one of the key skills of a successful HR professional
What advice would you give to graduates considering a career in HR?
Learn what it’s like to work as an employee in your company. The worst mistake an HR person can make is to not find out what your company does on a day-to-day basis. It’s all well and good knowing a brief overview for interviews, but get out there
on the shop floor and get to know your employees.
Describe yourself in three words
Fair, professional and fun.