I am delighted to present my interview with Cathy Hipkiss, Career Coach and HR Mentor.  I worked as part of Cathy’s HR team at Westbury Homes at a pivotal time in my HR career.  Looking back at my own career I realise that Cathy’s leadership and support really shaped my HR journey and the kind of HR person that I have become. Having interviewed Cathy recently I was reminded of what a great learning opportunity I had working as part of her team and how much I have valued her support.  Cathy shares with us here her journey through HR and her tips to help you on your own journey.

How did you get into HR in the first place?

It was a bit by accident.  I was going to be an accountant and worked as a temp in an accounts department.  I did an HND in business studies and then did a placement at Birds Eye.  Following 2 months in Accounts,  2 months in Industrial Engineering and 2 months in Personnel I knew I wanted to go into Personnel as I loved it.  It was getting to go onto the shop floor collecting clock cards and speaking to the employees that sparked my interest.

Can you give me a summary of the different roles you’ve held?

My first role was for Marconi.  I made the decision early on to generalise not specialise, despite a recruitment agency I was dealing with suggesting that wasn’t the way to make big money.  Through my career I’ve worked for businesses in Engineering, Chemicals, Licensed retail, Housebuilding and Student Accommodation.

Looking back what’s the biggest mistake you made?

There’s no big mistake but I’ve reflected on this recently and I would have more courage of my conviction.  There have been times when I’ve intuitively felt something about the business but not pushed it if others didn’t support it.  I think I’ve had a tendency to think others were better than me and I’ve learned that I need space and support to articulate what I feel is right.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my time at Westbury Homes.  Through my time I developed a UK wide team that seemed to be highly valued by the business.  We were in the Sunday Times top 100 and achieved Investors In People.  These awards mattered to me because they are judged on the basis of feedback from the people in the business.  I’m also really proud of the fact that even though Westbury was broken up, most people were able to leave with good experience and development to take elsewhere.  When I joined people had a dependency on the business and my goal was for people to having have grown as a result of working for Westbury.

What tip would you like to share with others who are on their own HR journey?

I have a few …primarily it would be to understand what makes your business successful and support the business with what HR practices will make that successful.  HR people are in a great position to see what is going on right through the business.  My tip would be to use your business knowledge to challenge business processes and how it all fits together.  Finally don’t forget to support the performance monitoring and development of Senior people in the business to ensure they continue to grow and learn.

Can you tell us a little bit about your current role and what prompted the move into this role?

I work as a career coach and HR Mentor.  I moved into the role because I love seeing people develop and this role gives me the opportunity to use my varied experience in HR to support my clients to achieve what they want to achieve.  Alongside this I get the opportunity to work more flexibly – this means each day is different and I get to experience a mix of work, volunteering and personal interests.

For more information about Cathy’s Career Coaching and HR Mentoring get in touch at [email protected] or look Cathy up on linked in.


Its no surprise for me reading through Cathy’s interview that her tip for success is linked to the 1st mistake in my free report.  For more information on how to embrace Cathy’s tip download your free copy now.

I’m always looking to hear new experiences so if you’d like to feature in one of the posts I’d love to hear from you.  Whether you are at the start of your career or have just made a change – your story will provide inspiration to others.  Post a comment on the blog, visit me on facebook www.facebook/theHRcoach, contact me through linked in or visit my website www.cmcoaching.co.uk


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