From HR Admin to a proud Business Owner: Lessons Learned in a 30-Year Career
Three decades ago, armed with little more than ambition and a desire to embark on a career, I found myself thrust into the world of HR administration. As a skinny, spotty faced 17-year-old, I had no inkling that this unexpected opportunity would lead me on a transformative journey of personal and professional business growth.
It was probably quite apt that “Dreams” by Gabrielle was number one in the charts on 12 July 1993. My professional dreams have certainly come true.
Today, as I commemorate the 30th anniversary of my career, I reflect on the milestones, challenges, and triumphs that have shaped me into an HR business owner.
The Early Years
Falling into HR At the tender age of 17, I stumbled upon the field of HR administration purely by chance. I had started 6th year at high school before the summer holidays but me and a friend went to Germany on holiday before the term ended. By the time I came back, my local careers office presented an opportunity to me with Babcock at Rosyth Royal Dockyard. From the age of 13 I had been working in a family run bakery, working weekends and school holidays. I liked having money in my pocket, so I wasn’t too fussed on going to college or university. Ideally, I wanted to have a job.
I was unsure of my career path. However, fate intervened when an opportunity arose in HR (or Personnel as it was then) and I embraced it with open arms. Little did I know that this event would ignite a passion within me for people management, employee relations, employee development, business growth, culture and leadership.
I went into the role with an open mind and the plan was I’d spend 6 months in Personnel, 6 months in Finance, 6 months in IT and 6 months in another department. This was under the Skillseeker programme which replaced the old Youth Training Scheme (YTS) that had been in place before. The good thing about the role at Babcock was they topped up the Skillseeker payment so I was earning good money at 17, whilst keeping my part time job going.
I was lucky to get exposure to lots of things early in my career and learned so much from the talented people within the Personnel Department and Employee Relations team. Jackie, Brian, Jacqueline and Pauline, along with the rest of the team played a huge part in my development and I thank them all for this. Sometimes you don’t know you’re being developed but you just have to observe what’s going on and put some of this into practice.
I was fortunate to not only learn on the job, but I was able to attend college and gain professional qualifications – business administration and HR qualifications.
Fortunately for me, the team in Personnel saw something in me and I didn’t get the chance to move to any other departments. I completed my placement in Personnel before successfully staying on. I stayed in this role for over 5 years and will forever be grateful for that opportunity at such a young age.
The Journey of Growth and Learning
Over the course of the next 20 years, I immersed myself in the HR world. I gained invaluable experience, and honed my skills. From mastering recruitment and selection to navigating the complexities of employee relations, I embraced every opportunity for growth. I gained professional certifications, attended industry conferences, and sought out mentors who guided me along the way.
Starting my own business
A decade ago, after a fulfilling career in HR, I felt a calling to do more. I yearned to utilise my expertise in a way that would benefit not just one organisation, but multiple businesses seeking HR solutions. With this vision in mind, I took a leap of faith and founded my own limited company, specialising in outsourced HR services. This is where my business growth journey started.
Building a Dream Team
Starting my own business allowed me to assemble a team of dedicated professionals who shared my commitment to excellence. Today, we proudly employ 11 individuals who bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to our clients. Together, we strive to provide tailored HR solutions, ensuring that organisations can focus on their core operations while we handle their people management needs. We have plans for more hires in the very near future. Furthermore, I’m passionate about creating a good workplace culture and giving people a platform to develop and grow.
Empowering Organisations for Success
Throughout my career and now as a business owner, my ultimate goal remains the same. This is to empower organisations to thrive by optimising their people. Whether it’s designing robust recruitment strategies, implementing effective performance management systems, or fostering a culture of continuous learning, we aim to be strategic partners in our clients’ success stories.
Looking to the Future
As I celebrate 30 years in my career and look to the future, I am filled with gratitude for the incredible business growth journey that has brought me to this point. The ever-evolving landscape of HR presents new challenges and opportunities, and I eagerly embrace them.
One of the things I’ve been an advocate of is helping young people. We do our best to give young people an opportunity and chance. People took a chance on me and I like to be able to do the same.
So, here’s my advice for people starting out:
Take Advantage of Opportunities
Sometimes, the best opportunities present themselves unexpectedly. In my case, I fell into admin role, but saw the potential for growth and advancement. I took advantage of the opportunities that came my way and worked hard to prove my value. This led to promotions and eventually, the decision to start my own business.
Building relationships is essential in any career, but in HR, it’s especially important. As an HR professional, you’re dealing with people and their needs, and building trust and rapport is crucial. Over the years, I’ve learned the importance of listening to employees and clients. It’s crucial to build relationships based on trust and mutual respect, and being empathetic to their needs.
In any career, change is inevitable. As an HR professional, I’ve had to navigate changes in employment law, technology, and workforce demographics. To stay relevant and successful, he’s learned the importance of being adaptable and embracing change. This has meant keeping up with new HR technologies, staying informed of industry trends, and being open-minded when it comes to different approaches to HR.
In the ever-changing world of HR, it’s essential to continuously learn and grow. I found that investing in professional development, attending conferences and workshops, and seeking out mentors has been invaluable in keeping my skills and knowledge up to date. This has also enabled his to bring new ideas and approaches to my business, which has contributed to its success and business growth.
Starting a business is always a risk, but sometimes, it’s worth taking. In my case, I saw an opportunity in the market for HR outsourced consultancy services and decided to take the leap. It wasn’t an easy decision, and there were challenges along the way. However, I’m proud of what we’ve achieved and the growth of our business.
Looking back on my 30-year career, I’m proud of what I’ve achieved, and the lessons learned along the way. From taking advantage of opportunities, building relationships, being adaptable, continuously learning, and taking risks, these lessons have been invaluable in my career success. I hope to inspire others to take risks, embrace change, and pursue their passions.
As I celebrate this milestone, I am grateful for the invaluable experiences, the incredible individuals I’ve had the privilege to work with, and the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of employees and organisations alike. I’d love to say here’s to another 30 years of transforming HR and empowering success, but I hope to have passed the baton on by then!
If you would like advice on your business growth journey or support with any of your HR needs, contact us.