Rising star: Sam Archer

What is your current role?

I am a senior HR officer for HR strategy at Shropshire County Council. I am responsible for a team of three HR officers and ensure the service and policies and procedures are aligned to the strategic aims and objectives of the authority.

What qualifications do you hold?

I achieved the Certificate & Diploma in Human Resource Management in 2002. The council’s leadership development programme is accredited by Chester College, which meant I could then go on to study for an MA in HRM, which I achieved in 2004. I have also upgraded to chartered member status of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Why did you get into HR?

I wanted to work within an environment where people are central to the organisation. I also wanted to drive forward HR initiatives that directly affect the organisation’s aims – providing better services and improving people’s lives in the community.

How did you get into HR?

I started as a personnel administrator and realised it was the career for me. I studied part-time to gain the Diploma in HR Management and graduate CIPD status. I then worked at an operational level within the council, enabling me to gain experience in a front-line, fast-paced HR environment.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

In a senior management role, even closer to the heart of the organisation, making a bigger difference, and promoting HR.

What has been your biggest career high so far?

Achieving my MA and successfully moving into the role of senior HR officer. Leading a team and working at a higher level were priorities for me. I’ve achieved these aims and now want to develop them even further.

What do you think it takes to succeed in HR?

The ability to adapt to constantly changing circumstances. The pressure to strive for excellence, which I feel we have achieved, and meeting stringent targets set by central government, mean that it is pretty hard work. On top of this we have to ensure that all our initiatives are meeting changing needs, so you have to be adaptable, forward-thinking and not afraid of hard work.

How do you manage relationships with senior executives?

Being visible to managers and executives shows you are in tune with the needs of the organisation and striving to ensure that HR initiatives make a difference. Having pro-fessional judgement, but with the ability to take calculated risks to meet organisational goals, earns the respect of senior executives.

Who is your biggest professional inspiration?

My first line manager in HR, Sue Wilson. Not just the consummate professional, but a great mentor and leader. She stays calm and professional in any situation and earns the respect of any manager she works with.

What are today’s big challenges for HR?

HR providing value for money in everything it does and to be seen to be making a real difference in the organisation. This poses real challenges for HR professionals and requires a balance of ensuring that HR is aligned strategically to the organisation’s goals, while maintaining an efficient, effective and motivated workforce.

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

HR will give you many things – working with many people at all levels, constantly adapting to changing environments, while ensuring that your HR policies, procedures and initiatives are sound and, of course, facing constant challenges. However, the rewards of being able to make a significant difference to the organisation make all the hard work worthwhile.

Describe yourself in three words

Reliable, adaptable, hard-working.

Sam Archer’s CV

  • 2005-present  Senior HR officer (HR strategy), Shropshire County Council
  • 2002-2005  Assistant HR officer, Shropshire County Council
  • 2001-2002  Personnel/staffing officer, Shropshire County Council
  • 1998-2001  Personnel administrator, Telford & Wrekin Council
  • 1995-1998  Administrator, Shropshire County Council

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