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How Did I Get Here? William Martin, Telewest Broadband


William Martin, HR Manager for Telewest Broadband’s Customer Operations, shares his experiences of working in HR to date.

What’s your current job role?
I’m National HR Manager for Telewest Broadband’s Customer Operations.

What did you do before this job?
I was HR Manager in the Customer Services division of BSkyB. In the early days of my career, I was with British Coal Corporation for 12 years working from Clerical Trainee up to Personnel Manager working both at company HQ and latterly at a multi-site mining complex. After being made redundant, I worked with a Scottish charity for a couple of years as Personnel Manager setting up a personnel function from scratch. I moved to an HR Manager position within one of Dresser UK’s manufacturing/production facilities for 2 years. I then moved onto BAe Systems in Glasgow as Employee Relations Manager within their shipbuilding division. I was there for about 18 months before joining Sky.

Describe your route into HR?
I left school and joined the National Coal Board as a clerical trainee in the Industrial Relations department.

Did you always want to work in HR?
No, but the industrial relations experience was something else and quickly pointed me in the direction of personnel management and ultimately ER/HR.

What would you say has been the most significant event in your career to date?
My role being made redundant by British Coal Corporation in 1995. I expected to walk into another job but although I had 10 years IR/ER experience, I didn’t have an IPD qualification and found I couldn’t compete against my professionally qualified peers in terms of getting an interview. This was a defining moment and ensured I focused on becoming CIPD qualified during the following 18 months.

How do you think the role of HR has changed since you began your HR career?
HR has developed into a more mature, proactive, commercially aware function and can deliver more readily for the business and its people. From my perspective, HR is very much viewed as the ‘change enabler’ within the business.

What single thing would improve your working life?
A four day week and aircraft punctuality.

What’s your favourite part of the HR Zone site?
The regular newswires.

Have you made contact with any other members?
Yes, to discuss HR issues impacting on other organisations in our sector.

Do you have any advice for those looking to embark on a career in HR?
In addition to obtaining your CIPD qualification, get some good practical employee relations experience as this will form the basis of all HR activity you might undertake in the future.

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:

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 Thenew Housing Association
Iain Young, Head of HR for Cofathec Heatsave

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