Emma Neave – MA Human Resource Management graduate

Current Employer: Watergate Bay Hotel

Current Job Title: HR Manager

Current Location: Newquay, Cornwall

“For me, Plymouth University was an ideal place to study whilst still working full-time. It provided an opportunity to build a support network of HR professionals that live and work in the South West.”

Tell us about your career path since graduation.
Since graduating I have started a new job as HR Manager at Watergate Bay Hotel, which for me is part of achieving my long term career goal.

How has your degree helped/influenced your career path?
I think having received my degree from Plymouth University does influence potential employers’ decisions when shortlisting for a role. I think it demonstrates a commitment to your profession.

What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?
Having worked in HR for nine years, most of my experience is within the manufacturing sector. As manufacturing is an industry that is reactive and ever changing, I have been exposed to a number of situations and processes – one of which was specifically restructuring. This is a difficult process to go through due to the nature of redundancies and the uncertainty it brings. Not only are you dealing with the process as an HR practitioner but you are also responsible for maintaining the remaining staff’s morale levels.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?
My passion definitely lies in activities around making a workplace a happy and healthy one. We are all tied to payroll budgets, so I enjoy looking at creative ways we can engage employees that doesn’t have a massive cost. In my previous role I gained a number of awards for the healthy workplace activities that were implemented by the local council as well as by the largest customer of the organisation.

What, if anything, would you do differently if you could?
HR for me is about learning: learning from what went well and then probably the most important thing is from what didn’t go so well and what I could do better next time. It’s about continuous improvement and development.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?
Generalist HR is great; every day is different so it provides a variety of experiences, challenges, and opportunities. It’s also a very rewarding job.

How did studying at Plymouth help you?
For me, Plymouth University was an ideal place to study whilst still working full-time. It provided an opportunity to build a support network of HR professionals that live and work in the South West. The lecturers are excellent. Not only do they deliver the information and content you need but it was always in a relevant, practical way.

What lessons/skills did you gain from your course?
Plymouth ensured that I started to think about the bigger picture; about strategy – not only HR strategy but also business strategy – and also about ways to gain top level buy-in and commitment to achieve the overall business goals.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?
I think generally how the class came together, supporting each other through the more tricky tasks and assignments. When it came to group presentations the whole class knew how nerve-wracking presenting to an audience (as well as to a camera) was, so were therefore very supportive and understanding.

Would you recommend undertaking a course with Plymouth University, and why?
Yes, it’s a great local university with a fantastic team spirit. The lecturers are encouraging and do everything they can to get the best out of you.