Listening to HR Career Journeys at #CIPDMAP15

My first workshop of the #CIPMAP15 conference is titled ‘My HR Career Journey’ where a panel of 4 experienced HR professionals have come along to pass on their wisdom and learning.

Phil Pepper introduced the session representing the sponsor Shakespeare Martino. 

Liz Veasey (@liquoricelearn) is Director of Liquorice Learn currently interim with British Gas.

Louise Fisher (@FisherLousie5 opening keynote) is CIPD Chair, and European Human Resources Director for Xerox Global Services.

Nicky Hill (@nickyhillNUH) is HRD at Nottingham University Health NHS 

Graham Salisbury is Head of HR at Action Aid.

Graham opens the panel with some philosophical quotes to get us thinking … 

  • Life can only be understand backwards as it must be lived forwards
  • Life’s not a problem to be solved but a reality to be experienced

And a Question for us: How many hours do you spend working?

You go 80,000 hours in your career.if you spend 1% of your career thinking about your career that would be 800 years, that would be 5months, which would seem a ridiculous ask. If we do make sometime for this in about our career we can shaped it and direct where we want to do, who we want to be, how we can influence in the world of HR. 

Nicky Hill is a languages graduate, then joined Cadbury (lots of chocolate), then Boots for 20years working in several different sectors: service, manufacturing, brining this breadth of learning into HR. In 2010 Nicky took redundancy after reorganising Boots and getting rid of her own job. Realising if she didn’t take the risk she might never leave. Galla, Rolls Royce, NHS HRD at Chesterfield more recent,y living to Nottingham H

Liz Veasey decided early on her profession “L+D through and through” hoorah! Started in civil services then moved to Carlton TV, excited about the move then realised there was little structure in HR and L+D there. Stayed here and moved to L+D manager, then moved in a Law Business surprised again. Fully into accelerated learning Liz played music in learning sessions which brought a significant shift but set the scene of how she would be innovative whilst here. Later with G4S and in the justice sector developing people who work with prisoners, which Liz found a humbling experience. She then moved to  L+D Director for G4S, until becoming interim to date with various organisations.

Graham Salisbury started out teaching religious education in the worse performing school in the country, and realised “I must be good with people” and moved into HR. His beginnings were the Central Electricity Board (no longer titled this). He then moved to a sticky bun company, later to British Airforce, then arranged his own redundancy (there’s theme) but this allowed some thinking time. Graham then found him self in the 3rd sector. Now head of HR at…

Introductions followed with questions from the panel, to the panel.

GS: Q to LF what are the benefits and challenges of working in a different sector

LF: A – brief recruiters to seek people from different sectors. Recognising that you have transferrale skills  and articulate these on your CV. Tailor and market yourself in that way. Get to know your recruiters and keep in touch with them, even when your settled

NH: when I joined NHS people said ‘oh it must be so different in the NHS’, but it really wasn’t. HR wise there are so many similarities, the skills are absolutely the same, and you can transfer your HR skills and experience

LV: find a recruiter that’s been briefed for recruiting for diversity. Be brave, do something that’s memorable and recognise how you stand out. Lots of people know exactly what to say in interviews. Prepare and plan how you will articulate what you have. 

Liz used visualisation in an interview and asked the interviewer to close their eyes and visualise winning an award! “Be quirky, be you, stand out”!

GS: After working in cake manufacturing for 5 years British Aerospace were prepared to take a risk on me. After lots of experience I went back to interview to cake manufacturing and was turned away and told “I don’t think you’d be right here because cake manufacturing has moved on in the last 15 years” ! Quite the opposite of valuing a varied sector experience
GS Q: How much if your caree was planned and how much ‘just happened’!?

NH: Early on, in Boots, most if it just happened. Later on when I had an intentional move, I really valued my network and spent time talking to people about my options and considering my career. Head hunters advised me to do interim and demonstrate my ability to diversity on my CV. So these were planned.

LV: reflected on my roles, almost equal amounts of chose and imposed. Back in the day I had a manager who was skilled in NLP who said “when you stop learning it’s time to change”. Most of my moves have been around 3years. It takes year 1 to get to know the business fully and recognise how your L+D craft fits, then year 2 to make things happen, then year 3 you notice de ja vous. So I reiterate his advice. When people asked “why are you going” suggested my situation was really good, and my reply was “because you can can do it without me now”

GS: my message is don’t put yourself down In the public sector and don’t big yourself up in the private sector. 
GS Q: How has the CIPD featured in your career?

NH: my study buddies are still in my network, we keep in touch and share. I’ve found the resources valuable 

LV: I did L3 and then L5 and I could really tell the difference in my thinking after that. My first experience of attending a local CIPD meeting wasn’t great. It was very closed and cliquey. I believe if you don’t like it, either don’t go again or chose to change it! So I joined the committee and I also advise at Derby University. I really enjoy being an accredited assessor for the CIPD qualifications. 

GS: Be pragmatic in brining your learning into practice, don’t leave it behind. If your talking to directors about something HR related you need to be at the top of your game. Champion your own credibility. We have a responsibility to know what’s going on the world of HR.

Questions from the floor…
1. I’m keen on a portfolio career, how realistic is that as an ambition?

LV: Think about your CV as active and fluid. I worked with a recruiter who sharpened my CV and challenged me to articulate my craft more accurately. Be tight on your package and know what you have to offer.

GS: When we are looking to move on we can think ‘any job will do’. More useful is to reflect and identify common themes from my experience and across roles that now define who I am. There is a narrative that runs through all of that. Go out their with that as your proposition. If you have a disparate series of experiences you may appear as a square peg for the round hole…don’t frightened of being distinctive and waiting (and keep seeking) your hexagonal hole.

NH: [agreeing] Picking the hexagonal role will feel more right for you.

GS: question I ask myself is: if I was happy in this role and someone offer me this job, would I take it?

LF: Interim suites some people, but can be dissapointing if you want to see things all the way through and recognise the end results. You might also be doing more junior work, because often orgs want someone who can do the job blindfolded.
2. Any tips for building personal resilience when things don’t go as planned?

GS: Make sure you’ve got a decent support network for when that happens. The big question to psychological asses relief workers is ‘have they got a support network’ so that when they come back, who is going to support them with that.

NH: Sometime having people around you to re I don’t you what you’re good at. Affirmation from others is helpful at times. I use my own personal network for this.

LV: Such a good point about remembering how good you are and contacting other people, to remind you how good you are! Equally I remember to do this to those in my network. LF said early that people like “fun people”. People also like opportunists. Get social, blog, comment on others contributions and join in. You do have time! 

LF: some of it is experience. We have to take a few hard knocks. It’s good to have a network and reflect. Two key skills for building residence are EMPATHY and EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

LV: strangely, I recommend going through a redundancy because of that empathy thing. Grab your leaning from your own experience.

GS: Recommends Roman Krznaric’s book EMPATHY for all HR professionals 

As do I! Find it here. Empathy: why it matters, and how to get it.
3. How do I get the career I want whilst not letting it take over my life?

Lots of shared and agreed messages about work-life-balance and maintaining what is the right way for you to feel you can be effective at work and effective and present in the rest of your life.

Commitment to not answering phone after 7pm or on the weekend. Equally, doing weekend work when required.

Liz considers home working, where it’s less easy to ‘shut the office door’. 


And your final one piece of career advice…

NH: do the best job you can in the job your in 

LV: when you notice you’re not learning it’s time to change something 

GS: your development and your responsibility 

LF: get underneath the business – truly understand it. HR is your specialism. Think business first.
[This blog was written live in session at CIPD Midlands Area Partnership conference 2015 in Hinckley, Leicestershire on Saturday 3rd October. My intention is to capture a faithful summary of the session higlights, but my own bias and views may also litter the blog. Please excuse any typos, and don’t hesitate to join the conversation on Twitter @Jo_Coaches #cipdmap15].

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