Irene Asare, head of HR, Mears Limited South
What is your current role?
Head of HR at Mears Limited South, which provides repairs and maintenance for social housing.
What qualifications do you hold?
I have a CIPD post-graduate diploma, which I am currently upgrading to an MCIPD.
Why did you get into HR?
I wanted to go into a challenging career that I knew I’d be good at. I wanted to help and support staff with their work and personal issues and make sure their managers are fair. I’m also very nosy and thought HR would be the ideal opportunity to find out all the gossip. I also wanted to focus on a career path where I felt I would be able to progress. I first undertook the Certificate in Personnel Practice self-financed, and then asked Railtrack to sponsor me to complete my CIPD.
How did you get into HR?
I joined as the PA to the HR manager at Railtrack. Luckily, they sponsored me to complete my CIPD qualification.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Head of HR for the Mears Group – in a bigger role with more staff.
What has been your biggest career high so far?
Joining the Mears Limited South Group as head of HR and sitting on the board.
What do you think it takes to succeed in HR?
Common sense, resilience and fairness.
How do you manage relationships with senior executives?
With lots of humour. But also by being commercial, down to earth, supportive, honest and realistic.
Who is your biggest professional inspiration?
One of my former HR directors. She was a great mentor and would challenge me to do my very best.
What are today’s big challenges for HR professionals?
In my particular sector, large-scale TUPE transfers from the public sector. Being innovative about how we recruit and retain staff and looking after staff development.
What advice would you give to graduates considering a career in HR?
Get some very good grounding in HR. Start out by learning all the different areas, administration being the key.
Describe yourself in three words
Determined, energetic and fun.
Did you know?
According to HR professionals, the most important skills for an HR career today are:
- Personal drive
- IT literacy
- Business/industry awareness
- Taking charge of your own career
- Generalist experience
- Numeracy/financial awareness
- Experience in different organisations.
Source: CIPD 2005 survey, HR: where is your career heading?