As part of our commitment to supporting candidates to develop fulfilling careers, we’ve invited some HR Leaders to share the secrets of their success.
This week, we had a great conversation with Sally Moxon, Head of HR at Proact IT. Sally began her career in an Administrative role before realising her love of HR and L&D and developing a career as an HR Leader.
Can you tell us how you got into HR and why?
“After university I went into an administration role with Barnsley Council, and from there I developed into a management role with a community based charity and that’s where I began getting more exposure to HR. I had to do payroll and there was a huge emphasis on the people; I was managing volunteers, making sure everyone had contracts. I wasn’t aware at the time, but the Office Management role had a huge amount of HR.
From there I took the next step to move into an Engineering company and again, as PA and Office Manager, gained more exposure to HR. There was no dedicated HR resource in the Sheffield office. Part of my job description was around transactional HR and Employee Relations, always supported by the HR team in Surrey. When I reflected on my role, I realised the HR side of things was the part I really enjoyed. Our Managing Director then asked me to look into Investors in People and my work helped us through that accreditation. It was from then on that my sights were set firmly on a career in HR.”
Can you tell me about the challenges that you’re seeing across the HR sector?
“The biggest thing for us is Culture and Employer Brand. We’ve done so much work over the last two years to get the culture of our organisation right. We hire for culture at Proact, we don’t just hire for skill. We are fiercely passionate about that because we have to bring the right people into the business. I think this has been a real change across HR in the last few years. The focus now more than ever seems to be on the culture of organisations and their employer brand.
As we go through a phase of acquisitions our greatest challenge will be the cultural integration of newer businesses into our organisation. We don’t want to lose what we’ve built upon over the last couple of years.
HR analytics and big data is also becoming increasingly important for us. We’ve always used our HR analytics to feed into our business models, and we report on that every single month. However, I’m aware from my networking with other HR professionals that in some businesses, data analytics is nothing but a concept, whereas we use it to influence every single part of our HR strategy and our wider operational business plans.
Finally, Learning and Development is a key theme at a lot of the conferences I attend. Coaching seems to be everywhere I go at the minute. Businesses are investing in their teams at a higher level than previously. I hate to use the word, but you know, you can’t talk about HR these days without discussing millennials. There’s a lot of discussion about how millennials are a different type of employee and how we need to engage and motivate them. As the workforce changes you have to appeal to them in a different way because they are money motivated but that’s not all that drives them.
Increasingly employees of all generations want development. They want more. They want promotion. They want CSR. Proact’s CSR programmes have been a massive focus for the last 7 years. Partly because I’ve got quite a passion for it and I’ve been able to drive that forward! That’s really paid dividends with our millennial team members because they like the fact that, for example, they get paid volunteering days here at Proact, and we have a calendar of CSR-related events and initiatives going on throughout the year. They look at how they can make a difference, and they like the fact that, as a company, Proact wants to do that too.
That’s also a big part of the reason we are so invested in our coaching culture. We’re hot on that because we need to be today. You need to develop your people, or they will just leave. It’s not enough to offer just a once a year appraisal anymore. People really need to start thinking differently about their learning, development and performance plans.”
“What career advice would you offer to someone either working towards a career like yours, or someone just getting started in their HR career?
“If you get the opportunity to do something that has a people focus, then just embrace it. I would also say in HR you can’t get too hung up on job titles, because there are so many ways to say ‘HR Leader’. I’ve been called all sorts: HR officer, HR manager, Head of HR, HR Business Partner. I wouldn’t ever get hung up on the title if you’re doing the job that you love. I started life as an office manager and I didn’t realize that, for about 60% of the time, I was doing HR! Nobody told me I was HR, and it didn’t say HR in my job title, but I was doing it and loving every minute.
If you’re in a managerial role, there will be some element of HR that you can tap into. If you’ve got an interest in something, go and speak to somebody and see if you can get involved; the worst they can do is say ‘no we can’t facilitate that’.
In terms of people who want to step up, again, same advice applies; if you can get that exposure, go for it. I have done work I haven’t been paid extra for, but it was massively beneficial for me in terms of my personal and professional career development.”
Sally joined Proact in 2011 as an HR Manager and is now the UK Head of HR with responsibility for all aspects of HR strategic development & operational management for 250+ staff members, based across 5 UK locations.
If you are interested in having a confidential conversation about your career or would like support growing your team, please get in touch today.