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Community feature: Introducing…


In a regular feature, we’re taking a closer look at the working lives of some of HR Zone’s 17,000 membership. This week, Shaun Dunphy, Project and Process Manager at the EMEA HR Service Centre for MCI, gives us an insight into his professional career to date.

What’s your current job role? Project & Process Manager – responsible for developing and implementing the MCI EMEA HR Service Centre delivering HR and payroll transactions and first line HR support for our European workforce.

What did you do before this job? I was HR Production Director for Exult, providing outsourced HR and payroll services to BP plc in the UK.

Describe your route into HR My early career was in engineering across a number of different industries. However, in the mid 1990s I got involved with HR via some change management work with a senior management team. Six months later I moved into HR full-time to run a company-wide competency management project and HR Systems.

Did you always want to work in HR? No way! My early memory of the ‘Personnel Department’ was of a group of very quiet people hidden behind a small frosted window with a buzzer to attract their attention. They seemed to have few purposes in life – to pay me, to get me on training courses, and to argue with my shop steward.

What would you say has been the most significant event in your career to date? There are two events that have equal significance to me. Firstly, moving to the other side of the fence to manage outsourced HR services. For the first time I really understood the value of running HR as if it were a business in its own right. With good business metrics you begin to really understand the economics and bottom line contribution of HR.

The second significant event was successfully going live with HR and payroll services for MCI outside of the UK. When you are the architect of processes and infrastructure to support multi-legislative, multi-lingual and multi-cultural environments it is extremely satisfying to see it go live with minimal problems.

How do you think the role of HR has changed since you began your HR career? Well, I suspect from my response to Q4 you can guess that things have changed quite a lot. Changing the label from Personnel to HR is not enough. I think there are still misunderstandings and concerns in some businesses about how to really utilise HR. There is also this perception that somehow you can separate the strategic bit from the transactional bit in order to concentrate on ‘adding value’. In truth, I believe you have to do both parts well in order to stay in the game. If you don’t get employee’s pay in the bank on the right day then their view of the value of HR takes a sudden downturn. And if you don’t build future-proofed people strategies then there won’t be enough money arriving in the first place.

What single thing would improve your working life? Instantaneous teleportation between home and work! I live in West Sussex and work in Berkshire. Travelling 78 miles up and 78 miles back daily is a bit mind numbing. But my family love where we live and I love my job with MCI. Thank heavens for audiotapes and RDS traffic announcements.

What’s your favourite part of the HR Zone site?
I enjoy the website’s ‘look and feel’. It is easy to locate what I want and I find the subject matter is quite broad. In this day and age professional networking is vital and a solution such as HR Zone overcomes with the constraints of distance and time.

Have you made contact with any other members?
Yes. I find the functional structure of ‘Any Answers’ means that I can find people dealing with similar issues and share best practices. It would be nice to see a few more email addresses though. Too often you get a name but no contact details.

Do you have any advice for those looking to embark on a career in HR? At certain points in your career make sure you spend some time in a non-HR role. Until you have actually had first-hand experience of a few jobs it can be difficult to really understand the work pressures on a line manager or employee. Knowing the theory is not enough. The practice never works quite the same as advertised.

If you’re willing to share your experiences of working in HR to date with other members, we’d like to hear from you – e-mail us to receive a copy of this questionnaire.

Previous ‘Introducing…’ features:

Debra Artlett, HR Officer, NGJ
Dianne Miles, HR Manager, Rollalong Ltd
Jacqui Mann, HR Manager, Integra NeuroSciences
Isabella Montgomery, Human Resources Officer at Thenew Housing Association
Iain Young, Head of HR for Cofathec Heatsave

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