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How Did I Get Here? Keith Hanlon, Quantum Business Media


Keith Hanlon, HR Manager for Quantum Business Media, describes his HR career to date, having previously been the Employee Relations Manager for Earls Court Olympia.

What’s your current job role?
HR Manager for Quantum Business Media, a business to business publishing, event and exhibition organising company which has grown at an incredible rate. On joining the company three years ago, there was no HR department, systems, policy/procedures so my role has developed along with the department.

What did you do before this?
I was the Employee Relations Manager for Earls Court Olympia Ltd (and absolutely loved it!) I was responsible for developing policy, in the first instance to ensure compliance with employment law but also benchmarking against other companies and ensuring best practice. It was at ECO that I picked up my experience in dealing with trade unions.

Describe your route into HR?
First off I studied in my own time for the Certificate in Personnel Practice before getting a lucky break into Earls Court Olympia’s HR department as a Personnel Assistant. ECO sponsored my CIPD studies.

Did you always want to work in HR?
I began my career in retail management and developed a huge amount of respect for the HR function and how it could really impact on the performance of a business. I decided to get as much experience as a manager as was possible before becoming a HR practitioner and, as most HR professionals will tell you, it’s near impossible to be effective in HR unless you’ve been in an ‘operational’ role.

What would you say has been the most significant event in your career to date?
I was one of the youngest managers within my particular retail business at 18 years of age with a team of seven. I made some massive errors in people management so learned quickly. Then at the age of 21, I was part of a long drawn-out restructure which resulted in my position becoming redundant. Although I secured another position, I saw this as an opportunity to take my experiences and go into HR.

How do you think the role of HR has changed since you began your HR career?
I believe that Personnel was once largely based around
administrative, welfare and ‘fire fighting’ tasks. HR is now an integral part of the business with HR practitioners being expert advisors, invaluable consultants and wise councillors to the CEO, directors, managers and staff alike.

What single thing would improve your working life?
Cutting down my travelling time to and from work (approx two hours each way). I reckon I could do it in 15 minutes in a helicopter, splitting the remainder of the time between extra time at work and extra time in my home town, Brighton.

What’s your favourite part of the HR Zone site?
‘Any answers’ is very useful. Although there is a risk that it becomes an area dominated by advertisers, I think it’s being managed well at the moment.

Have you made contact with any other members?
Yes! I’ve made some useful contacts and hope I’ve been of help to a few people looking to exchange information.

Do you have any advice for those looking to embark on a career in HR?
Get to know your clients (and every member of staff is a client). Understand what they do, what they value, their strengths and weaknesses. This can only be done if a proportion of the day is spent ‘on the shop floor’. And get the CIPD qualification.

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:
Andrew Mayo, frequent speaker and writer on HR issues
Jim Brooks, HR Manager for ServiRail Ltd
Jean-Bertrand de Lartigue, Chairman of HR2all
Karen Caddick, Head of HR, Channel Five
Madeleine Tate
Keith Luxon, HR Policy and Reward Director, The Laurel Pub Company
Jeremy Thorn, Chairman and Director of QED Consulting
Roger Pattison, HR – Training & Management Development Consultant
Verity McVarish, HR Manager for Sift Media
Rus Slater
David Kelly, Head of Development and Training for Aventis
Jenny Kevan, UK HR Manager for Abbott Laboratories
William Martin, HR Manager, Telewest Broadband
Craig Truter, HR Manager, The Body Shop
Martin Stockton, HR Transformation Leader, Towers Perrin
Nick Heap, Consultant, New Directions
Crispin Garden-Webster, HR Specialist, Asian Development Bank
Sandra Walsh, HR Delivers
Carole Leslie, Director, IT Learning Ltd
Shaun Dunphy, Project and Process Manager, EMEA HR Service Centre for MCI
Debra Artlett, HR Officer, NGJ
Dianne Miles, HR Manager, Rollalong Ltd
Jacqui Mann, HR Manager, Integra NeuroSciences
Isabella Montgomery, Human Resources Officer at The new Housing Association
Iain Young, Head of HR for Cofathec Heatsave

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