Who are you? What do you do? What is your background?
I am married to a very supportive husband and have 22 year old twins.
My HR career started when my then MD approached me and asked me to set up an HR Department for the business and, oh, get yourself CIPD qualified whilst you’re at it! I had never worked in HR or thought about going in that direction, but found that people always came to me with their issues so decided to give it a go, how difficult could it possibly be? My twins were 4 years old at the time but I juggled my home and work life whilst also studying CIPD part-time. It was extremely tough but I successfully set up the Department and managed remotely between Basingstoke and Glasgow, with travel to and from both locations. I was HR Manager, with an HR support team for 5 years and then moved on from this role to progress.
Having had various roles within HR/L&D, am now a Senior HR Business Partner and am responsible for supporting the strategic direction of various contracts within the business. It’s an extremely challenging and busy role, but I try hard to maintain my work/life balance so that I carry on being energised and focussed in both.
What does your average day look like?
My day varies so much, that I could not really tell you what an average day is within my job! I generally start by planning and prioritising – first things first, followed by reviewing any emails and then looking at any project work I have. Some days, the phone does not stop, so I need to ensure I stay focussed on my priority list as far as possible.
What led you to the utilities industry?
I didn’t actually choose to work in utilities. I had left my previous role as HR Manager to take some time out over the summer and reflect on what I really wanted to do with my career. By the end of the summer I had still not decided so chose to try something new and “see how it went”. Well, I joined my current employer within a Business Partner role – I looked after payroll, sub-contractors, workforce planning and relationship management with our suppliers. I started that role 12 years ago within the utilities industry and have stayed ever since, with various roles along the role. I enjoy the variety and attitude of people I meet within this industry.
What are the values that drive you?
I have always been about strong work ethics, fairness, responsibility and accountability. If I worked for a business that did not support these values, I would not wish to be a part of it.
What do you do when you are not working?
I have a busy home life as well as professional life. I like to socialise with my husband and friends, going out for drinks and meals. I love spending time with my 22 year old twins and going on holiday! I have a beautiful border collie called Lilly and a horse called Monty. I love to be outdoors in all weathers so attend a military outdoor bootcamp three times a week, so with a mixture of my animal family and passion for fitness I am outdoors more than in, which is perfect for me!
What/Who inspires you?
Strong people who have a passion and drive for achievement whilst remaining true to their self-beliefs and values. I met a very special friend through our working relationship who was all of those things. She inspired me so much and truly believed in me and what I could achieve. Sadly, we lost her suddenly due to a terrible illness, but I always think of her when I’m struggling or finding it hard to find the energy and drive to continue within my role. I try to make her proud every day.
What is one lesson you have learnt in your career so far?
To be yourself and not fall into the “corporate” trap. Stay true to your morals and if you’re not happy doing what you are doing, it’s down to you to make the change, no one else. Take responsibility and accountability for yourself and your actions.
What advice would you give to other women in the industry?
There is definitely a place at the table for women. Keep on working as you are and don’t let the history of the industry hinder your success or hold you back. We are all equal and should strive for a gender neutral workforce, which is fair for all. Don’t be afraid to be a minority in a male dominated industry, believe in yourself and the right for equality.
In your experience, what can businesses do to attract and retain female talent?
Businesses can work together and raise awareness of how they are portraying themselves to the external markets; their advertising, language used, forums being used to attract talent as well as focussing internally on succession planning, equal opportunities for all when it comes to progression. Businesses also need to be more conscious of their thinking and not assume roles can only be carried out by male employees because that’s the way it’s always been…..