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How Did I Get Here? Sue Matthews, Coventry City Council

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Sue Matthews

Sue Matthews, HR Manager for Coventry City Council, is this week’s star of HR Zone’s regular ‘How Did I Get Here?’ feature. As a new member, Sue says she’s looking forward to seeing who she knows on HR Zone.


What’s your current job role?
I am currently HR Manager for Coventry City Council’s Social Services & Housing Directorate. I have responsibility for the HR service, training and development and health & safety.

What did you do before this job?
Prior to getting this job in January 2001, I was the HR Manager for Leicester City Council’s Commercial Services Department.

Describe your route into HR
I worked for a large Solicitors’ partnership as PA to one of the partners. I started doing more and more personnel related work for the partnership and then saw a job advertised at Leicester City Council. I went on to take my Diploma in Personnel Management and MA in Human Resource Management at Leicester.

Did you always want to work in HR?
Not really, prior to moving to Leicester City Council, the jury was out on whether I would move into the legal profession or personnel management.

What would you say has been the most significant event in your career to date?
The most significant event was moving to Leicester City Council, obtaining my qualifications and establishing myself as a personnel professional.

How do you think the role of HR has changed since you began your HR career?
The role of HR is a much more strategic one now – a lot less of ‘welfare’ work. The move towards shared services and information for managers on organisational intranets means HR can concentrate far more on adding value to the bottom line.

What single thing would improve your working life?
Having more time to achieve everything I need to – I could do with at least another 8 hours each week.

What’s your favourite part of the HR Zone site?
I like the HR tips and the employment law news and features – I find it really useful.

Have you made contact with any other members?
Not yet, but I intend to. I’m looking forward to seeing who I know on there.

Do you have any advice for those looking to embark on a career in HR?
Yes, it’s important to get some experience under your belt – you could get in as a personnel team assistant, just as long as you have some experience at the sharp end. It’s then vital to get your personnel qualification in order for employers to treat you seriously.


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:
Nichola Nair, European HR Strategic Programmes Manager for Xerox
Alison Lewis, Corporate Learning & Development Manager, Oxfam
Jessica Diggins, HR Manager, Chartered Management Institute
Linda Klassen-Brown, Group HR Manager, The Logic Group
Keith Hanlon, HR Manager, Quantum Business Media
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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