A day in the life of Emma Perris, Lead Consultant

How did you get into your career?

As a young girl I loved programming with my dad. We had a little keyboard computer at home. It fascinated me how some seemingly random letters and numbers ordered in a certain way could create a game that I could actually play, (an Oric-1, a British 8-bit micro that was designed to take on the ZX Spectrum, for those old enough to know or care it’s ‘totally retro’ now).

My first job was as a receptionist for the Coachworks department in a car dealership, I loved it.  I was working part-time initially as I was still doing my school exams in-between.  This job taught be about customer service, dealing with difficult situations, managing expectations and it was where I had my first experience of clocking machines, timecards, and invoice for time. I eventually learnt how to make a good coffee according to the foreman to boot… maybe the writing was already on the wall without me knowing!

I went on to work in the accounts department for another dealership where I used to print off payslips and the cash analysis report from the payroll system.  Back in those days I would walk across town with a big bag of cash on a Friday lunch time before laying it out on my desk and separating it between the envelopes, the challenge was to have put the right change in the packets to ensure you didn’t have to go through them all again!

Later in life I met a lady I used to work with, and she asked me to join her in the accounts team at Tyre Technics. It was there that my consultancy journey began.  We implemented a new HR & Payroll system and one day over lunch I said to Sue, (the consultant), I think I’d like to do your job.  I joined Sue and Nigel at SOS Software & Services and the consultancy life exploded. I had never travelled for work before, but I could be anywhere in the UK from one day to the next, even as far as Australia.  We are still friends to this day which I think is testament to the bond you create whilst on this particular road.

What are the key responsibilities in your role?

I could give you an endless list of specific tasks and I do wear several hats because of my 20 plus years’ experience. Configuration, scoping/design meetings, training but it all comes down to; supporting my team, never leaving them feeling like they’re out there on their own.  I also help the wider team to develop their knowledge and to do right for our clients, keeping them happy by doing a good job but also being honest and managing their expectations.  Saying no is a key element to what we do too.

Describe a typical day

It starts with the craziness of family life, I am a single mom to a lively and headstrong three-year-old, (wonder where she gets that from but my older daughter is also the same?).  She loves to sleep in thankfully, so I get a chance to prep myself for the day, clearing out the inbox and preparing for the day ahead. Once the battle to get dressed and the nursery run is over it’s back to the day in earnest.

Each day varies, I may have a specific booking for the day which allows me solely to dedicate my time to one customer or I could be on nonstop calls between different clients or colleagues. At the moment this is all without travel on top of course.  My work could be writing a user calculation, configuring new elements, or investigating issues.  Some days are project calls or follow ups or simply supporting a colleague with something they need to do.  A lot of what I do is troubleshoot, I will be in meetings being bombarded with questions that I have to answer, it’s a little like, (I imagine) being on Mastermind.

When I’m working with clients a large part of what I do is to translate, translate the tech into understandable examples so that they can make informed decisions about what they want to do with their system, this is especially prevalent when doing the design workshops for brand new implementations.

What skills are needed for his role?

Empathy: When you first meet a new client ready to implement a new system you need to remember that they have rarely done this before and it’s really quite intimating for a lot of people.  System implementations are quite often done during times of change and take overs in a business so there is also the fear of the unknown.

Creativity: When developing something new you must think about all the permutations and not just about the HR & Payroll system, everyone who requires data from it and the other systems that will have to connect in some way or another.

Resilience: I know times have changed and more are working from home but, a consultant is more likely to be on the road, living out of a suitcase going from hotel to hotel and we miss out on family life.  You might be sat on the corner of someone’s desk for 8 hours without so much as a cuppa to keep you going, but that is the worst case!

What challenges do you face in this role?

One for me is the ever-changing world and brilliant system development, times move so fast so sometimes keeping up with the changes is a real challenge.   Also, I would say encouraging clients to take a step into the unknown, to communicate to them that the unfamiliar path will help and not hinder.

What keeps you motivated to go into work every day?

Personally, seeing my team and colleagues happy because I have been able to help or support them and seeing the clients I work with thrive in their understanding and achieve their goals. A big motivator for me is getting a system to work how the client wants it to and hearing them say how it is life changing from a workload perspective.

Knowing when I finish my day, I have achieved something, big or small and realising how that has allowed me to be a happier person at home. I see challenges and I show my babies how, with a little effort you can do what you want to in life and the rewards are worth it.  And if I fail, that was a valuable lesson, not a failure.

What advice would you give someone considering a career in HR Tech?

Do IT!!!  Take a leap of faith, if you have the passion you will thrive.  It has been the most rewarding job for me in so many ways and several times from a personal perspective it has been the thing that has saved me.  I have met some wonderful people on my journey, and we have so many funny stories not just as colleagues but also as close friends.

Emma Perris is a Lead Consultant at Phase 3

Our team of HR tech and Payroll experts cover all aspects of HR & Payroll systems consultancy. If you’d like to learn more about our team or more about our business and what we can offer, you can contact one of our specialists today. 

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Written by : Laura Lee

Laura’s role as Head of Marketing sees her continually looking for new opportunities to tell the world how great Phase 3 is.

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