Current Employer: NHS Kernow
Current Job Title: HR Manager
Current Location: St. Austell, Cornwall
“The modules at Plymouth were practically relevant to the workplace and delivered by an academic team who inspired thought-provoking and inspiring debate, which translated into the reality of working in an HR team.”Tell us about your career path since graduation.
The decision to apply for the course coincided with my promotion to the post of HR Manager. I wanted to add to my experience in HR by preparing myself further through relevant HR study.
How has your degree helped/influenced your career path?
Learning with the support of the academic team and my fellow students gave me fresh insights into developments in HR theory and the experiences of other HR professionals. I felt clearer about my own HR philosophy and priorities and was inspired to apply these in the workplace.
What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?
I’ve reflected a great deal about the various difficulties HR professionals face, including the perception of the role of HR from other areas of the organisation and the balance of satisfying the ‘business’ need and the needs of the individual. In the end, I came back to my first instinct which is that the hardest thing I face in my job is the real human tragedy, which puts everything else into perspective.
What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?
I feel absolutely privileged to have been part of the original ‘personnel’ team at the Eden Project; from sourcing the skilled contractors who constructed the amazing biodomes to designing and delivering assessment centres to recruit the outstanding visitor service team, setting up the policies, processes, and strategies with my colleagues, and shaping the culture of HR. All of this was an honour and such a remarkable, memorable experience.
What, if anything, would you do differently if you could?
So much! Every HR situation is different, sometimes only subtly. My view is that this is because people are different; they have different opinions, responses, experiences, values, and personalities, meaning that any people management interaction needs to take account of this. It is my that this isn’t about trying to please everyone, but by bringing everything back to the person where possible, and considering the impact on employees of people management strategies, there is a greater chance that HR interactions and strategies will have positive outcomes. My studies, especially the input from Dr Kinsey during my HR project, helped me so much in this regard by offering the opportunity to consider social constructs, the role of an employee advocate, and making space for the consideration of such theories and challenges to ‘modern’ HRM models.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the same line of work?
It is a rewarding, dynamic line of work with endless opportunities to make a difference and to add value to organisations. I would advise people to think about what motivates them and what they are looking for in a career. Remember, people don’t always like you in HR, so if you are accepting of that then go for it.
How did studying at Plymouth help you?
The modules at Plymouth were practically relevant to the workplace and delivered by an academic team who inspired thought-provoking and inspiring debate, which translated into the reality of working in an HR team. I feel proud that my HR project about line manager well-being was a driving factor in the development of the organisation’s Health & Well-being strategy and has resulted in the implementation of health and well-being initiatives.
What lessons/skills did you gain from your course?
My mindset about what I consider the role of HR to be has developed, as I found myself challenging my previous thinking through the debate and reading involved in my studies. This insight has influenced my approach to HR strategy, people management, and customer service. The increased awareness about the psychology of work and social constructs has been invaluable.
What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?
Without a doubt the lively exchange of ideas between lecturers and students which led to several ‘stop and think’ moments and made me look at HR issues in a different way. I am still intrigued and influenced by the theory about the role of HRM and have enjoyed bringing this debate into the workplace.
Would you recommend undertaking a course with the University of Plymouth, and why?
I would recommend the University of Plymouth without a doubt. The quality was amazing and all departments were willing to help in any way they could. I got so much more out of my studies than I expected.