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How Did I Get Here? Rus Slater, Freelance


Rus Slater shares his experiences of working in HR to date, which includes working for a HR consultancy as a training consultant.

What’s your current job role?
Presently I am freelancing and working on a couple of contracts. My job was made redundant at the beginning of the year in a re think of strategy and I contacted some old clients who had development needs.

What did you do before this job?
My last full time role was as a training manager at a consultancy, designing and delivering new management training that was either subject specific, predominantly “Change Management” or bespoke for clients

Describe your route into HR?
Strangely circuitous! I came out of the Army in 1987 with no civilian qualification beyond A Levels. I spent six months working in a Recruitment Consultancy in the IT sector but the banks foreclosed on my bosses and so I went to work at an HR consultancy as a training consultant, between being offered the job and starting the training division was closed and so I worked for four more years as a recruitment consultant. During that time I took my IPD course by correspondence as well as doing the ITD entrance. About five weeks after I finally got my IPD the two institutes merged. Shortly after that I left the company and set up as an HR consultant. Working with a management consultant, in association with a firm of accountants in Oxford, I started to do outplacement work as well as recruitment and T&D, I then worked with Sanders & Sidney for 6 years as an associate whilst also doing other projects such as rewriting all the job descriptions for an oil company and delivering a change management programme for a motor dealership network.

Did you always want to work in HR?
No, it was a gradual thing, predominantly driven by a love of T&D and experience in recruitment. In my time as a consultant I have covered almost every aspect of HR from designing a bonus structure to representing at ETs. Oddly I find that people often tell me that this range represents a “Jack of all trades, master of none” situation….I thought it was “generalist”!

What would you say has been the most significant event in your career to date?
Strangely it is probably the 10 months I spent as the HR manager of an IT consultancy. The whole company was managed in a very “bottom line focussed” way which really taught me a huge amount about business and the awareness of costs and margin. Since that time I have worked with many organisations where people never give a thought to their actual cost or contribution to the business. In one instance I was working with a consultancy where no one knew whether their department actually made a profit! These weren’t the HR people but the consultants and their managers!

How do you think the role of HR has changed since you began your HR career?
I think there has been a continued swing away from Admin and Welfare and towards a proactive, commercial support role. However I don’t think this is universal and I think some HR departments could do a lot more to be seen to be focussed on the business. In many organisations HR departments are still a long way from being perceived as a contributor to the bottom line.

What single thing would improve your working life?
A more consistent flow of local work would be nice. Having said that I have my work/life balance pretty well sorted out so I am not in any way dissatisfied with my lot

What’s your favourite part of the HR Zone site?
“Any answers”…..I’m forever recommending it to people

Have you made contact with any other members?
Electronically, through “Any answers”

Do you have any advice for those looking to embark on a career in HR?
a. Get a degree….lots of organisations won’t look at you without one
b. Get some seriously commercial experience so you understand the needs of an efficient and effective organisation
c. Enjoy yourself….the day you stop smiling, get out and change something

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:
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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