What is your current role?
I’m the regional diversity manager for the four North East Fire and Rescue Services (NE F&RS) covering Cleveland Fire Brigade, Durham & Darlington, Tyne & Wear and Northumberland Fire and Rescue Services.
Where were you working before and what were your duties?
I worked for 10 years in three NHS trusts: mental health, acute health and then primary care, rising from the position of operational personnel officer to head of HR.
What qualifications do you hold?
I have a BA (Hons) in English and History, a graduate diploma in personnel management and an MA in HR management. I’m also CIPD qualified.
What are the duties in your present role?
I work across four separate fire and rescue services, and the relationship with them is based on a partnership agreement. I am line managed by Carol McCletchie, director of HR at Cleveland Fire Brigade, who sets my key work objectives in conjunction with the HR directors from the other services. My main duties are to ensure the NE F&RS is recognised as a leader on equality and diversity issues and that the workforce is truly representative of the community it serves. In particular, recruiting more female and minority ethnic firefighters.
What do you hope to achieve in your role?
To ensure that all staff are able to demonstrate their competence in equality and diversity and to meet the needs of their local community. And, just as importantly, to ensure that the local community views all four services as inclusive.
What are the challenges HR faces in the next five years?
Meeting all our legal obligations. But we need to do this without invoking the cynicism of our staff, and we have to convince them that we are doing it to make the workplace better.
What advice would you give to people starting out in HR?
Enjoy each and every role and never say no. HR has so many facets that you have to seize as many experiences as possible.
What is the essential tool in your job?
Being objective and seeing the bigger picture.
And the most over-rated?
Project initiation documents.
What is the worst thing about HR?
You have to care about people, but you also have to have a tough side, so that, when necessary, you can make difficult decisions. People lash out and it’s then that you have to remember to step back behind the role.
What is the strangest situation you have been in at work?
Supporting an employee through gender reassignment. It was a unique learning experience on both a personal and professional level and made me realise the crucial role that HR has to play in situations that go beyond the workplace.
What is the most annoying piece of management jargon?
‘Talent’ management. To me, this invokes sleazy connotations.
What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?
Risk is all relative. I’m a strictly one-foot-on-the-floor person.
What is your essential TV viewing?
I’m addicted to all crime dramas such as CSI, Dalziel & Pascoe, Frost and Rebus.
What is your most popular web page?
MSN maps and directions.
Who would play you in the film of your life and why?
Helen Mirren. She’s feisty, has style, class and determination.
Who would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?
Nick Knowles (DIY SOS) – a smile to die for.
- July 2005-present Regional diversity manager for the four North East Fire and Rescue Services
- Oct 2003-July 2005 Head of HR, Langbaurgh Primary Care Trust
- Feb 2001-Oct 2003 HR manager, North Tees & Hartlepool NHS Trust
- Aug 1995-Feb 2001 Operational personnel officer, Tees & North East Yorkshire NHS Trust