That is quite a long story! I wanted to go into a science-based career and was advised to join the Milk Marketing Board. This led me to apply for a retail management scheme and had several interviews including one with M&S, who asked me the turnover at their Paris store, of which I had no idea! I was underprepared for these interviews and subsequently not offered the jobs. These interviews did however, ensure I was more prepared for the others and was offered a job at Woolworths and Tesco. Following these, I had one more at the Co-op. They offered me a job in the Grocery Buying Department which I accepted rather than the Management Trainee Scheme.
After several years I became a buyer and as things changed with more direct deliveries I ventured into another role, Internal Auditor. My role included stocktaking and counting the cash in all the cash offices. My next move was to join SavaCentre- the BHS/Sainsburys hypermarket group as Store Accounting Manager.
I was responsible for the profit and loss of each store I worked at including opening a brand-new store in Merton, Southwest London. The natural progression from this was to become the store Personnel Manager, the company car you got alongside this role was definitely attractive!
We then opened a store in Sydenham. We employed 1,200 staff who we recruited through the Forest Hill Job Centre. After that I was asked to lead a project to procure an HR and Payroll solution for all 13 stores and Head Office. This was completed and my team and I successfully implemented across all the stores.
Sainsburys then decided that SavaCentre Head Office was surplus to requirements, so all who worked there were made redundant. Strangely, the day I was made redundant I received a call from Midland Software, questioning if I was interested in a job. I ended up joining them for 14 years doing many roles including Project Management, Programme Management, Account Management, New Sales (HE Sector) and Business Development Manager. I then moved to the Access Group for a couple of years as a Sales Executive. Following this, I spent some time at a small start-up before joining Phase 3 in February 2020.
My key responsibilities are to grow and nurture relationships with third party software vendors in the HRIS and Payroll marketspace. I also assist with any external tender responses that Phase 3 may decide to bid on.
My day starts with taking our two dogs out for a walk around the lovely Suffolk countryside. I then have a quick check of my emails and respond to anything urgent. I like to plan my day in advance, so I have things scheduled in my diary to complete. This ranges from internal calls, external calls to partners or tender responses. I put aside time to review the marketplace, what is new, what is good, what is bad and who is acquiring who any why.
I think the skills needed are agility, perseverance, honesty, and likeability. Plus, any eye for detail on the tender returns.
The only challenge I face is winning a tender against some companies that have an inhouse response team with a library of standard answers. Unfortunately, tenders can be won on how good your responses are rather than how well your solution fits the requirement. I have recently seen a tender for a company of 200 employees who will only entertain a software provider who has an excess of £5m per annum. How is this value for money as it drives the prospect to a higher costed solution that may not meet their needs?
I can quite honestly say Phase 3 as a team keeps me motivated. I have the autonomy to get on with what I believe to be of the greatest benefit to Phase 3. This in terms of building relationships, sharing knowledge, and of course adding to the bottom-line profitability.
HR Tech has changed rapidly in the last few years, with COVID necessitating this change. I am a true believer that HR has for many years been behind the game in terms of technology. This must change- HR are key to the success of any business! Workforces are more devolved than ever before, their employees demand a better user experience. Generation X need technology similar to Facebook and Amazon. The War for Talent is on and technology is the conduit for staff retention. A career in HR Tech is therefore something to seriously consider. It could be you who changes your companies HR team from administrators to strategists. It is you that could become the company hero.
Clive recently hosted a number of our sessions at our Festival of Knowledge. From sessions with Ceridian on the role technology plays in employee retention and experience to a great session with Applaud, you can watch him in action by clicking here.
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