Meet the team

Between us we have over 140 years of HR experience, 57 of them gained at myHRdept. We have experience in sectors as diverse as FMCG, retail, education, catering, charity, security, IT & Fintech, pharmaceuticals, coal mining, space, travel, automotive and facilities management. We’ve worked with small private businesses, unionised organisations, LLPs, not for profits, charities, membership organisations, co-operatives and global companies – where we’ve supported their employee relations & employment law needs. 

Bill left his corporate life as HR Director for Coca-Cola's UK operations in 2000 to form HRR Solutions Ltd providing HR consultancy to companies such as BT, Cadbury, Office Depot, Bakkavor etc, Bill set up the first on-line HR system, myHRdept.co.uk, in 2002 to assist SMEs with their HR needs. He has extensive employee relations, trade union and consultation/change experience, is an expert on employment law and is an SHL certified assessor. Find out more about Bill here.
Let's Get Personal

Bill Larke

Director

Catherine formally joined Bill as a co-director of myHRdept in 2005. Having started her career in generalist roles in a variety of sectors including opencast mining, automotive, legal, heavy industry and FMCG (Coca Cola) she later specialised in Reward Management at Rank Hovis McDougall (famous for Hovis). Catherine is CIPD qualified with a post graduate diploma in HRM, is a Hay trained job evaluator and an ACAS certified mediator.

Catherine Larke

Director

Jess joined myHRdept in 2015 as our first ER Adviser. Jess has a first-class honours degree in HRM and considerable experience dealing with complex ER issues in top-end retail (Harrods, Selfridges). Jess was promoted to the position of Head of HR Services in 2018 to assist clients to develop their HR agendas and with effect 1 Dec 2020 took full operational control of the growing team and range of services in the newly created role of HR Operations Director.
Let's Get Personal

Jessica Whelan

HR Operations Director

After a 12 year career as an employment solicitor Jane left private practice to provide employment law specialist tutoring for CIPD students. Jane joined the team in 2016 since when she's put her encyclopaedic knowledge of employment law to very good use.
Let's Get Personal

Jane Lister

Head of Legal

Emma joined myHRdept in February 2019 bringing a wealth of experience gained in the hospitality, security and technology service sectors. Emma is CIPD qualified.
Let's Get Personal

Emma Dozier

HR Administrator

Gina initially joined us on a freelance basis having worked in partnership with us for many years as in her capacity as HR administrator for one of our clients. Gina has over 15 years HR experience working in a variety of roles including security vetting, training and HR admin in sectors as diverse as corporate banking, FMCG and education. Gina joined us as a permanent member of the team in October.
Let's Get Personal

Gina Regan

HR Adminstrator

Laura joined us in April 2020 in the middle of lockdown. She has a BSc in Business & Management and is CIPD Level 7 qualified. She has a developed her HR and ER experience in companies as diverse as DHL and Abbott Laboratories.
Let's Get Personal

Laura Moore

Employee Relations Adviser

Like Laura and Jas, Stephanie joined us during lockdown. She has significant ER experience gained in from her time with a facilities management company. She has a BSc in International Business, has recently successfully completed her CIPD level 5 qualification and started Level 7 in April 21.
Let's Get Personal

Stephanie Setchell

Employee Relations Adviser

Jas has almost 10 years’ experience of resourcing candidates across a range of sectors whilst working for Hays Recruitment and latterly specialising in IT roles in a specialist agency. She has a BA in Business Administration and Law.
Let's Get Personal

Jaspal Virdee

Resourcer

Siobhan, our third new starter during lockdown, joined us in August 2021. Previously she worked for a large, fast paced food retail company and for Hewlett Packard. Siobhan is qualified to CIPD Level 3 and is planning to undertake Level 7 shortly.
Let's Get Personal

Siobhan Murray

Employee Relations Adviser

Gemma is our newest team member, having joined us in November 2021. Previously she worked as half of a two person HR team for a large, fast paced food retail company, where she had a particular focus on family-friendly policies. Gemma is planning to undertake her CIPD Level 5 shortly.
Let's Get Personal

Gemma Lane

HR Officer

Jeremy has been working in Information Technology since the mid-1990s and holds CISSP and PMP certifications. He has experience with a wide range of industries including software development, government, financial services and cyber security with large companies such as HP, BT and Intel but also small companies with less than 100 employees. As an Information Security Officer, Jeremy's job is to protect information by mitigating security risks - something many companies leave until it's too late.

Jeremy Lukins

IT Security Associate

Amy joined myHRdept in November 2022 following an interesting and varied career which included theatre, HR and sales, during which time she gained the CIPD Level 7 qualification. She eventually realised that L&D was both her passion and her forte. Amy works closely with our clients to develop their L&D offering to enhance employees' work experience and improve business performance.
Let's Get Personal

Amy Mellor

Head of Learning & Development

Actually the longest serving member of the team after Bill and Catherine (12 years dog and puppy) and by far the most demanding member, rescue dog Stig specialises in featuring in Facebook posts (always our most popular!) ball catching, growling at visitors and staring intently at anyone with food. Stig misses the office environment as there's so much less food around.

Stig

Chairman

myHRdept founder, Bill Larke

Bill Larke
Director

How did myHRdept happen?

It all started in the Swan Uppers pub in Cookham! A friend was Finance Director of a large membership organisation, and they wanted their members, mostly small business owners, to have cost effective access to HR advice and documents, employment contracts etc. That was back in 2002, and I’d not long left Coca-Cola my corporate career. I looked at the market for HR support for smaller business and there wasn’t much choice – lawyers, call centres, insurance-type products. I decided that it would be fulfilling to use my big company experience to help smaller business along. That still gives me a buzz, 16 years on – and I’ve learnt an awful lot more in that time too.

Tell me about the biggest change that you’ve had to deal with whilst growing the business, what did you adapt to make the change

Like most small businesses the biggest step change was taking on staff. Initially myHRdept was just me, then Catherine and I together, as husband and wife. We took on our first employee in 2011 I think when we relaunched myHRdept in the format it is today. Now we employ 10 with another starting on Monday. The biggest change was learning to trust other people, and learning that I couldn’t do everything myself. Recruiting talented people certainly helps with that journey, and I’ve always set out to look for motivated intelligent people with a great knowledge of employment law.

Describe a situation where you needed to persuade someone to see things your way. What steps did you take? What were the results?

This happens almost daily, and my role now involved working with the CEOs and owners of our larger clients. I don’t seek to tell them how to run their businesses but I do profess to have a lot of experience of hundreds of businesses, and I have a decent feel for what works and what might not, and that’s not just in people matters. When it comes to people issues though, I try and encourage clients to put themselves into their employee’s situations. It’s long been a principle of mine to treat people how I would like to be treated, and I don’t think that’s a bad principle for any manager of people.

Tell me about the toughest decision you had to make in your career

Every time I have to restructure or close a business with job losses it’s tough, but I always try and approach things as honestly and fairly as possible and encourage clients to do the same. Actually the most difficult decision I made in my career though was to give up my career, my corporate one at least. At aged 30 I was already at Director level in Coca-Cola, providing HR support to some 3,000 and enjoying all the trappings that went with it. I’d been offered promotion again and I knew that I was on a path to a highly successful and very lucrative corporate career, but somehow it just didn’t feel like me. Giving it all up to start my own business wasn’t an easy decision though, and was made no easier by my simultaneously needing heart surgery and going through a divorce!

If you could describe your team in three words, what would they be and why?

I don’t think I could find 3 words that would do them justice! Catherine and I have a team of highly experienced highly capable people most importantly we like each and every one of them. It doesn’t feel like the political world we used to occupy, it’s more like a family, albeit a very hard working one. There’s the 3 words then, capable; experienced, family!

What are the three things most important to you in your work life?

You’re obsessed with 3s! I alluded in my last question to one important factor which is to have a non-political environment. It’s also very important to have client relationships we enjoy. Lastly I think it’s the challenge of being able to make a positive difference to a client’s business. A lot of business people don’t have a clue what HR is about and doubt it can influence the bottom line….when they work with myHRdept they learn how to effect much needed change more quickly, how to recruit retain better people, how to ensure they have an effective structure and how to optimise employee performance. For some of our clients we effectively carry out a ‘Non Executive Director’ type function and when that relationship forms it is enormously satisfying.

If you weren’t one of the Directors of myHRdept what would you be doing if you could?

Part of me wants to be walking the paths of Mallorca with Catherine and Stig the dog, learning to sail a boat and relaxing in the sun, but I know that I would miss working and the rewards (the non financial ones) that working brings. My ideal world I suppose combines both of these things. Having just turned 50 I think I’m too young to retire, but after 30 years of hard graft I think the time to readjust the work-life balance a bit is not too many years off, and it would be ideal, Brexit permitting, if that involved some time in the Balearics, where we’ve been holidaying for nearly 20 years.

Jessica Whelan​
Head of HR Services

Tell me how you ended up in your current role with myHRdept.

I decided, after having my first child, to take a step back from the London commuter life. I was with Harrods at the time and the journey was pretty gruelling to and from work. As scary as it was, I decided to set up as an independent HR consultant and attended a number of networking meetings (that I always found very uncomfortable). From that I undertook a number of fixed price projects but one day received an email from Catherine, myHRdept’s Director. I met both Directors for an initial chat where they talked about their business and plans for the future. It sounded very interesting and something I was keen to be a part of. Now nearly 4 years later there is no looking back. It’s a fantastic place to work. I started initially as an ER advisor, progressing to HR Manager and then into the role of Head of HR Services. Naturally my roles have evolved as the business has grown.

How does this role or Company differ from your previous roles?

This role encompasses all facets of HR. I have previously specialised in the contentious side of HR (employee relations) and worked alongside other HR specialists. Now however my role focuses on achieving more strategic alignment and to work on proactive value add projects for our clients. Depending on our clients’ needs I wear different hats which is great because in any one day no skill is left unused.

The Company differs in the sense that it is in no way corporate or political. We are a family here. It is solution focused and extremely commercial which is fantastic as it allows us to really add value to our clients.

What three words would you use to describe your role?

Stimulating, satisfying and ever-evolving

What have your biggest professional challenges been?

My background was in retail. Unfortunately, I have had to undertake a number of large-scale redundancies requiring collective consultation and numerous closures. Logistically as well as emotionally these require great planning, training and timely execution. It is imperative that you remember your actions are impacting people’s lives and train your supporting management team to ensure it runs smoothly for all. If you become too detached from this you will lose what it means to be an effective HR professional.

I would also add that in HR it is imperative that you get to know your client base incredibly well. The purpose of our role is primarily to advise and safeguard but to be effective at this you have to have fantastic interpersonal skills in order to influence when required. (If you can’t influence then you must be fantastic at providing plan B and C to provide further protection to your clients).

What would you say is your biggest achievement to date – personal or professional?

My career to date and my children are of course up there but I suppose something that shows my personality a tad is that at the age of 15 I was awarded a bravery award from the Metropolitan police. A young man attempted to mug me but my stupid reaction was to start punching him as hard as I could and to hang on to him. He did stab me with a screw driver (no vital organs hurt) but by some sheer luck I took his number plate and recognised someone in the car with him. This resulted in a court hearing and conviction. (I am very determined and a tad feisty)

Describe a situation where you needed to persuade someone to see things your way. What steps did you take? What were the results?

This case involved a client who had received a complaint of racial abuse and threatening conduct from one employee against another that was witnessed by the whole team. The accused had long service and was a friend of the owner. The owner was hoping a disciplinary warning would suffice and that this whole matter would mend itself. Unfortunately, with matters such as breaches of dignity at work it isn’t so easy to appease. The conduct was so severe that it did constitute gross misconduct. If the client had left the accused in situ then they faced a risk of constructive dismissal (the complainant had over 2 years’ service). I advised the client of their options and associated risks and eventually the client came to the right decision for his business which was to dismiss.

Tell me about the toughest decision you’ve had to make in your career?

I have 2……. The first being that I decided 4 years into my HR career to specialise in Employee Relations (ER). All of my seniors advised me to stay generalist for at least 10 but I loved employment law and always found ER to be like playing chess. Most of my peers disliked ER too which I think is what made me love it all the more. Some said it was risky to pigeon hole myself but actually each and every career move I have made has been fantastic and all have added value to my in-depth ER knowledge. Secondly, making the decision to leave the corporate blue-chip shiny world and enter self-employed stand alone. When I made the decision to do this it was either going to make or break my career. It is one I was glad I make as I really have benefitted. Since joining myHRdept I feel I have found my happy place, being a support function for numerous entities who like to try and test me on a daily basis is what makes me tick.

What are the three things most important to you in your work life?

Having a team ethic, a supply of biscuits and coffee and client rapport.

If you weren’t working as Head of HR Services for myHRdept what would you be doing?

I love people and understanding what makes them tick so I would retrain as a Criminal psychologist. Always fancied myself as a Dr of sorts.

Jane Lister
Head of Legal

Tell me how you ended up in your current role with myHRdept.

I wanted to return to the workplace and use my employment law but I didn’t want to go back into practice, HR seemed like a good fit.

How does this role or Company differ from your previous roles?

It’s my first role in HR, previously I was a solicitor then a tutor on an employment law course. Working in HR is very similar to being a solicitor in terms of trying to resolve issues and disputes. The difference is with timing – at myHRdept it’s about trying to avoid an Employment Tribunal claim whereas as a solicitor generally you aren’t consulted until after a Claim has been lodged.

Working at myHR is different to working at a London legal practice. At myHR we tend to work on our own and have individual responsibility for the advice we give whereas when I worked as a solicitor we were often working on large cases as part of a team.

What three words would you use to describe your role?

Varied, challenging, relentless

What have your biggest professional challenges been?

Adjusting to working in HR and all the “grey”, checking other peoples’ work and not being pedantic/feeling everything needs to be done as I would do it.

What would you say is your biggest achievement to date – personal or professional?

Bringing up my children.

Describe a situation where you needed to persuade someone to see things your way. What steps did you take? What were the results?

I can’t think of a particular situation but I often think it’s a good idea to explain the pros and cons and why a particular course is recommended then give the recipient of the advice time to think it all through – the important thing is that the client is in a position to make an informed choice.

Tell me about the toughest decision you’ve had to make in your career?

To give up work to be a full time mum.

What are the three things most important to you in your work life?

Social contact, mental stimulation, work/life balance

If you weren’t working in your current role for myHRdept what would you be doing?

Maybe back into a legal practice or maybe I’d take up something completely different – definitely working with people though.

Emma Dozier​
HR Administrator

Tell me how you ended up in your current role with myHRdept.

I was looking for a new role and when the recruiter called me about the position it sounded interesting so I went for the interview… and here I am.

How does this role or Company differ from your previous roles?

Previously I’ve been working in house. Dealing with all our clients was initially a challenge but you soon get used to it.

What three words would you use to describe your role?

Challenging, varied, rewarding.

What have your biggest professional challenges been?

Moving from in-house to consultancy and adapting to the differences.

What would you say is your biggest achievement to date – personal or professional?

Bringing up my kids.

Tell me about the toughest decision you’ve had to make in your career?

Giving up work to be a full-time mum.

What are the three things most important to you in your work life?

Work/ home balance, team culture, learning.

If you weren’t working in your current role for myHRdept what would you be doing?

I’d like to think I would be a chef or a photographer.

Gina Regan​
HR Administrator

Tell me how you ended up in your current role with myHRdept.

I took a job with one of the clients and hey presto… 2 years later I sneaked in the door with you guys! 

How does this role or Company differ from your previous roles?

I only ever worked in-house so supporting a range of different client types is very different.

 What three words would you use to describe your role?

Hmm… OOhhh and aaarrrgggghhhhh.

On a serious note – Busy, Varied, Learning 

What would you say is your biggest achievement to date – personal or professional?

This is a tough one. I’m not really a goal-setting, strive-to-achieve type of person. I’m quite happy plodding along and taking an opportunity as it finds me. So, I don’t see anything as a big achievement, just lots of little “oh, that’s good!”. I’m very proud of my son and how he’s growing into a young man (as all parents would say). I’m amazed at getting so far with Karate and still progressing, I thought I’d back out once I got to actually fighting but apparently, I quite enjoy that too!!

Tell me about the toughest decision you’ve had to make in your career?

After a bad experience with a previous employer, to decide that I wanted to stick with HR and not do a random ‘anything’ job!

What are the three things most important to you in your work life?

Good colleagues who are approachable for both work and personal stuff

Balance between work and personal life

Feeling that I understand what needs to be done so I can pick it up and run… I hate the in-between bit from learning something new to feeling confident with it!!

 

If you weren’t working in your current role for myHRdept what would you be doing?

Probably still with the Client! I only left them because this opportunity came up.

Laura Moore, ER Adviser

Tell me how you ended up in your current role with myHRdept.

I had been working as a BHR & ER Advisor for a pharmaceutical Company with various sites across the UK. As my client areas were based in Oxfordshire, more often than not, this meant long journeys to and from work for several years. I came across the myHR role whilst on maternity leave and decided to apply for it and it all started from there!

What was it like joining a new company under Pandemic lockdown conditions?

A little odd at first as I had not met most of the team in person and I have never been inducted virtually before. However, the team was great and all very welcoming. I have still only met the majority of the team virtually, but I already feel like I am part of the furniture. We have calls via teams daily which has really helped and I know if I have any questions, the team is only a call or email away.

How does this role or Company differ from your previous roles?

All my previous roles have been part of an in-house HR department whereas this role incorporates advising external clients. The Company differs as I am used to working for large organisations whereas myHRdept is a smaller, friendly organisation, so it feels more like a family.

What three words would you use to describe your role?

Customer-focused, fast-pace, rewarding

What have your biggest professional challenges been?

One of the challenges of HR is not getting too emotionally involved and this is particularly hard in certain situations especially when you know the employee. However, whilst you must remain professional it is always best to approach these situations with a certain degree of empathy and treat employees as human beings.

What would you say is your biggest achievement to date – personal or professional?

Personally, definitely my daughter, Layla. Although she can be a handful (no idea where she gets that from!), she definitely puts a smile on my face. Professionally the attainment of my Level 7 CIPD qualification has been one of my biggest achievements to date.

Describe a situation where you needed to persuade someone to see things your way. What steps did you take? What were the results?

I had a case where the employee had been off on long term sick. Rather than facilitate a return to work the manager wanted to dismiss them. I explained to the manager that as the employee had a disability and medical professionals believed they would be able to return to work on a phased return basis this would be the best option. The manager finally came round to the idea and the employee returned on a phased return basis.

Tell me about the toughest decision you had to make in your career

Although it has never been my ambition to be a stay at home Mum the toughest decision for me was returning to work after maternity leave and having to leave Layla at nursery from a young age. If I said I didn’t have Mum guilt I would be lying but I am so glad I made the decision I have, as having a career is important to me and working in HR is something I love.

What are the three things most important to you in your work life?

Team environment, stimulating job role, work-life balance (where appropriate!)

If you weren’t working in HR, what would you be doing?

Since leaving university I have always worked in HR, however if I wasn’t working in HR I would quite like to be a lawyer as I have always found criminal law and court cases fascinating.

Stephanie Setchell
ER Adviser

Tell me how you ended up in your current role with myHRdept.

I was contacted by myHRDept with a copy of an exciting job opening for an ER Adviser role. It entailed working with a variety of business sectors, with some really experienced people. As I was (and still am) keen to learn, I thought this sounded like a fantastic opportunity. I picked-up the phone and had my first interview. Unusually my 3rd interview was with some of the team, which gave a great insight into the team dynamics and workplace culture. I felt it was an organisation that I really wanted to be part of. 

How does this role or Company differ from your previous roles?

The content and work are very similar but here I am working within a large HR team which I prefer. My last role was a stand-alone HR Manager in a large business and I really did miss not having someone to bounce ideas off. I worked more directly with the employees in my last role and here I am client facing.

What three words would you use to describe your role?

Stimulating, developmental and rewarding.

What have your biggest professional challenges been?

Probably the same as many HR professionals but it is definitely COVID. We were all hit with furlough, redundancies, uncertainty and more! It required fast-paced adapting, learning and hard work, whilst ensuring that employees were coping through the challenging times too.

What would you say is your biggest achievement to date – personal or professional?

Graduating from university, completing my level 5 CIPD and renovating my first house!

Describe a situation where you needed to persuade someone to see things your way. What steps did you take? What were the results?

I worked on a case where an employee had some serious but spent convictions on their DBS certificate. The employee worked mostly on a site that did not require them to have the screening but occasionally on a site that did. Their manager was keen to dismiss the employee however I suggested the better option if it was possible, was to carry out a risk assessment and then, consequently, we restricted access to the occasional site instead. The employee was able to keep their job and we fulfilled our duty of safeguarding at the same time.

Tell me about the toughest decision you’ve had to make in your career?

It is hard to pin-point this to one decision. The role of HR lends itself to challenging decisions, such as selection criteria when making people redundant, but for me the most challenging has been performance managing colleagues who you work with closely day-to-day. It is important that they understand the seriousness of it but at the same time you need to ensure your working relationship remains intact to fulfil the role successfully moving forwards.

What are the three things most important to you in your work life?

Opportunities, learning and a strong team culture.

If you weren’t working in your current role for myHRdept what would you be doing?

If I had to move away from HR, I would probably work within business development or become a business consultant to help grow start-ups.

 

Jaspal Virdee​
Resourcer

Tell me how you ended up in your current role with myHRdept.

I kickstarted my recruitment career over 10 years ago at Hays, working with corporate clients within the IT, telecoms and finance sectors. After relocating to Buckinghamshire, I decided to leave the agency environment and wanted to move into an internal facing recruiter role where I could learn, add value and build upon my strengths, develop long-standing relationships and continue recruiting for multiple jobs across all sectors.

myHRdept offered me my next career goal, and here I am recruiting for a variety of clients sourcing talent, placing candidates and building our clients’ workforces.

 How does this role or Company differ from your previous roles?

My previous roles within an agency environment involved working on large-scale projects, technical roles and executive positions for a set of corporate clients. At myHRdept, as a standalone recruiter, I am working collaboratively with a professional HR team and hiring managers, developing strategic recruitment plans to hire the best talent for our clients.

What three words would you use to describe your role?

 Generalist, Challenging, Rewarding!

What have your biggest professional challenges been?

One part of my job, that I still find challenging and don’t enjoy is telling qualified candidates that they did not get the position!  I have had to overcome this by delivering the news in a compassionate manner and providing as much feedback as possible, so they have a better chance of being hired in their next interview.

What would you say is your biggest achievement to date – personal or professional?

During my career at Hays, I completed recruitment training programmes, and was successfully rewarded and promoted several times, which helped me exceed my targets and accelerate within my role. This helped me sharpen my skills and extend my market knowledge quickly and be on track with my career. In my personal life, I am still working on the art of cooking and baking cakes!

Tell me about the toughest decision you’ve had to make in your career?

After University, I trained and practised as a legal conveyancer for many years in private practice. During the last recession, I was made redundant and decided to retrain as a recruitment consultant.  Without a doubt, this has been the most rewarding career path, and I have never looked back!

What are the three things most important to you in your work life?

Continuous learning, work/life balance and a great team!

If you weren’t working in your current role for myHRdept what would you be doing?

If money was no object and I did not have a family to support, I would be travelling around with my backpack, ticking off my bucket list!

Siobhan Murray​
Employee Relations Adviser

Tell me how you ended up in your current role with myHRdept.

I was approached by our recruitment guru, Jas! I hadn’t ever considered working in HR consultancy before, but she completely sold it to me.

How does this role or Company differ from your previous roles?

The main difference is that my previous role was an ‘In-house’ HR Manager position with a fast-food delivery franchise and the HR Team was just myself and Gemma.

HR consultancy means there is far more variety in the work I do. Whilst I do similar amounts of employee relations work, the difference is that I could be working with a big corporate company in the morning and working with a small, laid back start up in the afternoon. We also work with many different sectors which encompass different employment law and industry specific qualifications and rules. It’s been a fabulous learning experience so far!

It was also amazing to move into a full HR team where I could bounce ideas off of everyone. The team are also truly amazing and everyone genuinely wants to help and support one another.

What three words would you use to describe your role?

Chaotic (in a good way), exciting, wide-ranging.

What have your biggest professional challenges been?

My previous role really was like being thrown into a shark tank, never mind the deep end! They didn’t really have any kind of HR and I was tasked with building a HR department from scratch. I then had the task of trying to get buy in from a pretty anti HR workforce/leadership team, which was a challenge to say the least. It was very rewarding though as when I left the company, I could look back on what I had built and achieved during my time there.

Another of my biggest professional challenges which I will never forget would have to be a big tribunal case that I was involved in. I got cross examined by a panel of 3 (including the Judge) for an hour and a half! It was awful but also satisfying at the same time – the Judge was testing my knowledge of HR and trying to trip me up, but thankfully I didn’t (hence the satisfying part).

More generally, one of the biggest professional challenges has been to know when to fight for something and when to let it go. The best advice I have ever received in my career is, “choose your battles wisely” – It’s true.

What would you say is your biggest achievement to date – personal or professional?

Personal – surviving a road trip with Gemma around Scotland. To say I nearly died whilst attempting to ski down Glencoe Mountain would be an understatement.

Professional – as described in the previous question, successfully carrying out a HR transformation and culture shift has to be up there with my biggest achievements. With a lot of time and effort I gained the respect and buy in of the managers to the point where I had total control over employee relations decisions, and if I said “no this isn’t right”, they would respect and trust this decision. I felt proud that I knew that any decision made by the company (with my involvement) was fair.

Winning Head Office employee of the year in 2018 was also a proud moment.

Describe a situation where you needed to persuade someone to see things your way. What steps did you take? What were the results?

The HR transformation (or creation I should say) and culture shift only happened once I had built solid relationships with the managers. It didn’t happen overnight and I had to build the trust and get rid of the stigma of HR being awful (we’re not all bad!)

Once I made those relationships everything fell into place. They felt supported and learnt that no question was a stupid question and that I was there to help them and not judge them.

Trying to persuade a workforce where many employees didn’t believe in mental health, to take mental health seriously proved very difficult. This involved a whole company culture shift and for this to work it was crucial that senior managers were on board. I carried out a lot of training and included some hard-hitting facts and continuously encouraged the workforce to be more open. We also provided as many templates and resources as possible to make things easier for the managers implementing this at store level.

The result was far better than I thought it would be, the cultural shift resulted in employees feeling more comfortable opening up about their mental health and the training provided gave managers the confidence to initiate these sometimes uncomfortable and sensitive conversations.

In terms of how I generally persuaded managers to do things my way, it was about genuinely helping them and proving that life is easier if you let HR help. Convincing the leadership team was slightly different, I soon learnt that if I told them how much it would cost them if they didn’t do things my way that they were soon on board!

When I finally persuaded them all… HR got veryyyyyyyy busy, employee relations was on fire as the managers were actually going through the correct HR avenues.

Tell me about the toughest decision you’ve had to make in your career?

Leaving my old company was probably the toughest decision I have had to make in my career. I spent nearly 5 years with this company and was very loyal to them, it’s where my career really took off and I built great relationships there. It wasn’t a corporate company and we were like a little family, there were many tears shed when I left, by both me and them!

Thankfully I’ve now got a myHRdept family which is equally (if not more) amazing! When I settled in here all my worries disappeared, the team are so lovely and it’s a great environment to work in. I definitely made the right decision!

What are the three things most important to you in your work life?

A variety (employee relations thankfully is never the same from day to day)

A great team

Constant learning

If you weren’t working in your current role for myHRdept what would you be doing?

I would probably either be working for my previous employer still or working in an Employee Relations Specialist role somewhere else.

If not HR, Forensic Neuropsychology or a Barrister.

 

Gemma Lane
HR Officer

Tell me how you ended up in your current role with myHRdept.

I followed my ‘work wife’ Siobhan. Siobhan hired me into my first role within HR.

After hearing her sing myHRdept’s praises for three months, there was no way I could turn down the opportunity of an interview when it arose. 

How does this role or Company differ from your previous roles?

It differs greatly, I began my HR career in an ‘In-house’ position with a fast-food delivery franchise and that was my only experience in HR prior to myHRdept. To move to a consultancy company, that has such as a wide variety of clients was a big and exciting step. 

It was also a welcome change to move to a team who are all so genuinely happy to help each other and who all have such a great group relationship.

What three words would you use to describe your role?

Eclectic, Enlightening and Exciting.

OR

Can I help?

What have your biggest professional challenges been?

Moving from a role and company where you felt like you knew everything, to a consultancy where you realise you in fact know very little (in the grand scheme of things).

The ongoing challenge of no day ever being the same and there always being an opportunity to learn more.

What would you say is your biggest achievement to date – personal or professional?

Biggest personal achievement to date was not dying on my Scotland Road trip in February.

Biggest professional achievement is having Jane (our legal guru) tell me my drafted letter was well written.

Describe a situation where you needed to persuade someone to see things your way. What steps did you take? What were the results?

When my dad wanted to buy red carpet, red curtains and a plumb sofa for his lilac-walled living room. I had to express the dire mistake he was making and explain how his decision would be an assault on the senses. I described what the issues were, expressed my thoughts on how he could avoid this catastrophe and even showed example pictures of what the room could be with a cohesive colour pallet…ten years later he still loves his plum sofa and red carpet.

That was the day I learnt that just because you may be right, it does not mean that it has to be done your way and sometimes helping someone achieve their own vision will leave both of you happier…so I helped him put up red curtains.

Tell me about the toughest decision you’ve had to make in your career?

Not to be a broken record but leaving my old company to move to myHRdept, was both the easiest and hardest decision I have had to make.

One, career wise it was a no brainer for the amount of experience and exposure this role could provide.

Two, well-being wise it is tough to leave a workplace where you are comfortable and where you have made friendships.

What are the three things most important to you in your work life?

My laptop (for obvious reasons)

My daily calls with the team (It’s important I don’t let them miss me too much.)

My endless drive to understand (understanding how I can improve, understanding how things are done.)

If you weren’t working in your current role for myHRdept what would you be doing?

I’d likely still be at my old company crying that my work-wife had abandoned me for a HR consultancy… or I would have moved on.

If I didn’t work in HR though I would probably be an independent artist doing a graphic design course of some sort.

And if money was no object…I’d probably write books, fiction of course.

Stephanie Setchell, ER Adviser

Tell me how you ended up in your current role with myHRdept.

I was contacted by myHRdept with a copy of an exciting job opening for an ER Advisor. The role entailed working within a variety of business sectors, with some really experienced people. As I was (and still am) keen to learn, I thought this sounded like a fantastic opportunity. I picked-up the phone and had my first interview. Unusually my 3rd interview was with some of the team, which gave a great insight into the team dynamics and workplace culture. I felt it was an organisation that I really wanted to be part of.

What was it like joining a new company under Pandemic lock down conditions?

Very unusual! I expected my colleagues to feel like strangers for at least the first year but I was surprised how quickly I have built relationships with the team. We have daily video calls which certainly helps. I think it has worked well as communication channels and expectations have been clear from day one.

How does this role or Company differ from your previous roles?

The content and work are very similar but here I am working within a large HR team which I prefer. My last role was a stand-alone HR Manager in a large business and I really did miss not having someone to bounce ideas off. I worked more directly with the employees in my last role and here I am client facing.

What three words would you use to describe your role?

Stimulating, developmental and rewarding.

What have your biggest professional challenges been?

Probably the same as many HR professionals but it is definitely COVID. We were all hit with furlough, redundancies, uncertainty and more! It required fast-paced adapting, learning and hard work, whilst ensuring that employees were coping through the challenging times too.

What would you say is your biggest achievement to date – personal or professional?

Graduating from university, completing my level 5 CIPD and buying/renovating my first house last year.

Describe a situation where you needed to persuade someone to see things your way. What steps did you take? What were the results?

I worked on a case where an employee had some serious but spent convictions on their DBS certificate. The employee worked mostly on a site that did not require them to have the check but occasionally on a site that did. Their manager was keen to dismiss the employee however I suggested the better option if it was possible, was to restrict access to carry out a risk assessment and restrict access to the occasional site. The employee was able to keep their job and we fulfilled our duty of safeguarding at the same time.

Tell me about the toughest decision you’ve had to make in your career?

It is hard to pin-point this to one decision. The role of HR lends itself to challenging decisions, such as selection criteria when making people redundant but for me the most challenging has been performance managing colleagues who you work with closely day-to-day. It is important that they understand the seriousness of it but at the same time you need to ensure your working relationship remains intact to fulfil your role successfully moving forwards.

What are the three things most important to you in your work life?

Opportunities, learning and a strong team culture.

If you weren’t working in HR for myHRdept what would you be doing?

If I had to move away from HR, I would probably work within business development or become a business consultant to help grow start-ups.

Amy Mellor​
Head of Learning & Development

Tell me how you ended up in your current role with myHRdept.

I had been working for a London-based Forex company for three years and was starting to think about taking on a new challenge. I received a call from Jas asking me if I was looking for a new role and telling me about the opportunity at myHRdept. Over the next couple weeks I met with Bill, Catherine, Jess and some other members of the team and really enjoyed getting to know everyone along with the idea of building a new part of the myHRdept business.

How does this role or Company differ from your previous roles?

I’ve never worked with so many HR experts all in one place! As the resident L&D bod it’s fascinating to learn more about the details of what each person is working on as it’s quite different from my own role and I think the others find my role interesting for the same reason. Everyone is really supportive and ready to share their expertise.

What three words would you use to describe your role?

Creative, engaging, varied.

What have your biggest professional challenges been?

I started my career in the facilities management industry, so early on in my career I learned how to come up with creative solutions to learning and development with no budget. It isn’t my preferred way to work but I’ve adapted existing systems to work for learning management when they were not designed to do that, delivered training sessions where people have removed my equipment halfway through and trained people in tiny cupboards where necessary!

How did you get into your area of work?

It was a bit of an unusual path for me. I was working in fringe theatre as a director and had a part-time sales job on the side. (Theatre is not a very lucrative industry for many starting out!) I then became a sales trainer and from that moved into L&D and haven’t looked back since!

Tell me about the toughest decision you’ve had to make in your career? 

I suppose the key decisions that I have made that have changed the course of my career have been to specialise in L&D early and (so far) not to work for big corporations. I decided to specialise in L&D because I find it to be the positive side of HR and did not enjoy my early experiences of supporting in generalist HR work. I can’t say I have ever really regretted the decision. Likewise, I have twice been in the position when I have been lucky enough to be considering working for either a big name employer or a SME. Each time I have chosen the SME and I haven’t regretted that either! I like working in a less corporate environment where I can get stuck into lots of different challenges!

What is most important to you in your work life?

I am passionate about creating a great experience for employees. We spend a third of our lives at work so it’s important for that time to be fulfilling. I strongly believe that companies can’t expect employees to deliver a great experience for customers unless they create a great experience for their employees and that if they put their employees at the heart of their business the results will speak for themselves.

If you weren’t working in your current role for myHRdept what would you be doing?

A bit of a boring answer but I would love to study for a PHD in organisational psychology!

We use Cookies – by using this site or closing this message you’re agreeing to our Cookies Policy