As part of our commitment to helping shape the careers of the people we serve, we’ve been speaking with HR Leaders across the UK to understand their career path and the key skills they believe are important to success in an HR leadership role.
This week we spoke with Michelle Glendinning, UK HR Lead Catalyst Technologies Division at Johnson Matthey.
Like most, Michele didn’t start her career in HR. Michelle studied Business Studies at Sunderland University before progressing to her Post Grad in Human Resource Management and Development at Northumbria University. Having begun her HR career in HR Management within the Hospitality sector Michelle quickly moved to SAGE where she stayed for 10 years, eventually leading the HR function for Technology.
We asked Michelle a few questions about her career and what she felt was important to success in the role of HR Leader.
In your opinion what does it take to be a successful HR Leader?
“The most effective HR Leaders are aligned to the business and they become a true partner. Lots of business partners say they want to be strategic, however they are not operating as true enablers, and many still have the ‘computer says no’ mentality.
The right HR leader will ask the right questions, challenge leadership team, and to seek out the solution that works for the business”.
“In HR we need to seek to add value, and keep things simple, it is very easy to continue to give business leaders lots of tasks to do, but we must ask ourselves why, and what value does it bring’.
Essentially being an effective HR leader is about being supportive, recognising the importance of looking after people, and making things as slick as possible to take the pain away from managers to allow them to focus on the right things”.
What are the key issues you see the sector facing at the moment?
“The amount of Stress and anxiety cases is on the rise, when I talk to people a lot of this is driven by social media and economic pressures that people have today.
“The rapid changes in technology, is impacting markets as we need to act more quickly to remain competitive, the landscape is constantly changing so we do adjust our structures, accordingly, attract different skills and talents in to our businesses, as we are in a constant state of change’
“Brexit seems to be on everyone’s agenda too because no one really knows how it’s going to develop or impact us in reality’ also what the GDPR and Employment law changes driven by Brexit are also key themes”.
What career advice would you offer to someone looking to get in to HR?
Michelle says her degree was a great starting point, she wrote 2 dissertations on managing change, but doesn’t think it’s an essential criterion for getting in to the industry. “A lack of relevant degree doesn’t have to mean you can’t transition in. It really comes down to the attitude of the candidate, their willingness to learn, being passionate about people and doing the right thing, problem solving and whether they are solution focussed”.
Although Michelle is accredited and achieved chartered status, she doesn’t feel gaining the CIPD is paramount to success. The CIPD is a great resource and a community to be part of as they deliver great research which she has used over her career, but it is not the only factor that would make you successful HR Leader.
Michelle has been with Johnson Matthey since December 2018 and leads the UK HR team for Catalyst Technologies.
If you would like a confidential conversation about your career or developing your HR team, please get in touch today.