Current employer: The Seafood Restaurant
Current job title: Head of Human Resources
Current location: Padstow, Cornwall
“I had an amazing time at Plymouth University and on reflection I can see that it was a very important decision which has had a significant impact upon my career. The balance of education and lifestyle made it the ideal experience from my perspective!”
Tell about your career path since graduation.
I joined Tesco for a 12 month graduate placement with a view to fast-tracking towards a senior management position following graduation. I was given a number of people related projects to look after that provided an opportunity to develop further understanding of people management in a busy customer-facing environment. I also took on an operational refurbishment programme whilst in the final year of study to provide me with a different set of experiences and was fortunate to be able to balance my education with my work commitments. As a result, I remained employed by Tesco during my final year of study and returned to a full time role following the completion of my degree and was delighted to be given the opportunity to be quickly appointed into a senior team post as Personnel Manager.
I spent almost five years working for Tesco, delivering a role as Training Manager before being appointed to a senior post of Personnel Manager, working in three different sites.
I joined Rick and Jill Stein’s The Seafood Restaurant group in a new post of HR Manager in early 2007 and I am now Head of Human Resources, looking after employment, recruitment and skills development in a growing business that employs 450.
What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?
I consider myself very fortunate to have experienced so many positive outcomes during my career to date; in addition to working for a wonderful family business in a stunning part of the country, I have had numerous opportunities including a discussion with the Secretary of State regarding youth employment, I have supported a programme to assist young people with returning to work, and I have been present at three events at the House of Lords with Plymouth University as a result of our work together (along with a CIPD award to recognise my contribution to raising the profile of my chosen professional within the community).
My main goal for the future is to take on a HR director role as our business grows; securing chartered fellow status of the CIPD (a professional body for HR practitioners). I am keen to continue supporting local graduates having been involved in a number of initiatives during recent years.
What, if anything, would you do differently if you could?
Nothing. The decision to study Personnel Management at Plymouth University has turned out to be a far more important decision than I realised at the time: I was fortunate to learn in a first class environment, obtaining a broad array of skills whilst also being encouraged to think about the type of business leader that I wanted to be. It also made me appreciate the quality of life we have in the South West and that there are plenty of outstanding career opportunities available locally if you work hard to be the best at what you do.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?
I liked the fact that there was flexibility with business related courses on my degree and that you are able to develop core business skills and knowledge and then seek to specialise in the latter stages of your degree. I’d recommend pursuing the opportunity to spend some time working alongside a HR professional to get a feel for what the role and function entails, as this will help put what you are learning into context to ensure that it is the right career move for you.
I’d recommend networking as a way to get to know HR professionals in your local area; it would be of huge benefit to have a mentor to support you through your development and offer insight into HR as a career. It is amazing how many opportunities occur as a result of getting to know the right people and making a great first impression. It could also help you to secure a high-quality placement too!
How did studying at Plymouth help you?
I was aware of Plymouth University’s growing reputation as a modern university and I was keen to study locally in order to balance commitments with both work and sport. I knew a number of individuals that were already studying at Plymouth University which was a great help as far as recommendations and support with finding suitable accommodation was concerned.
I felt that there was a great deal of assistance available to students; the most important aspect being the support from peers who were studying the same degree – I remain in contact with a number of fellow students since leaving university. I was also aware that there were a range of student services, along with a great deal of help and assistance for a broad range of matters. I found the leaders of my particular degree programme particularly supportive and helpful and I recognise the value of their input in shaping my career.
What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?
I had a fantastic time meeting new people whilst learning a great deal along the way. The course helped me to experience a wide range of business related matters that I had not previously had exposure to, and also allowed me to contextualise my work experience.
The best part was mixing with such a broad range of people with diverse backgrounds and experiences: something that I do a great deal of in my current role.
I encountered a few problems getting into halls of residence and was able to use my network of friends who were already at Plymouth University to help me to find suitable accommodation.
I had an amazing time at Plymouth University and on reflection I can see that it was a very important decision which has had a significant impact upon my career. The balance of education and lifestyle made it the ideal experience from my perspective!
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