Get to know your peers in the global HR community through our career profile series. Today, we talk to Julia Fourey-Jones, head of people at BookingBug.
CV in brief:
- April 2016-present: Head of people, BookingBug
- 2014-2016: Senior recruitment specialist (contract), KAUST, Saudi Arabia
- 2013-2014: Resourcing manager, Kokoba
- 2012-2013: Senior recruiter (contract), Amazon
A day in the life
Tell us about your job and organisation
BookingBug is the industry’s most powerful and advanced multi-channel booking platform. I've joined at an exciting time – we’re one of the UK's fastest growing technology companies and I head up the HR function across our international offices. I'm responsible for recruiting, the whole employee lifecycle, and working to implement the programs and processes to align our people with our business goals while keeping them happy.
Who do you report into?
Our CFO / COO Andy, who has a wealth of experience in internet, digital and technology, and has co-founded and grown two companies.
Tell us about your team
Right now I’m a one-man band looking after HR, but I work closely with my manager, I sit with the senior management team and of course work very cross-functionally. We’re currently a company of around 65 in the UK and 80 worldwide and I anticipate the HR team will grow in future as we continue to scale and our international HR needs become more complex.
What is the most rewarding part of your role?
The opportunity to make a positive impact on the organisation every day – whether it’s reducing recruitment costs, improving our quality of hire, implementing new benefits, having a meaningful career development discussion with an employee, ensuring we’re legally compliant etc.
What is the most challenging part of the role?
Getting my head around the complexities of legal and financial considerations in our various territories – the UK, USA and Australia. There’s a lot to consider when setting up operations and hiring in new countries!
What does a typical day look like for you?
Every day is different but at the moment given our growth plans, the bulk of my job is focussed on sourcing great talent for our vacancies and moving candidates efficiently through the recruitment process.
On top of this I’m working on a variety of projects including employer branding; reviewing our compensation & benefits; training & development plans; establishing a performance review process; reviewing our company-wide communications; ensuring compliance with legislation and our various accreditations. And of course I’m always on hand for ad-hoc employee queries about anything people-related!
Why did you choose your current organisation to work for?
I was looking for a fast-growing, early-stage company where I could grow with the business and really make an impact, rather than being a small part of a huge operation. I’ve worked for companies of a range of sizes, and stages of growth, and feel like this is the kind of environment where I can really thrive and add the most value. Also the vibe here is great – it’s fast-paced but very collaborative.
Perks and downsides of your role?
The only downside so far is that I haven’t yet had the opportunity to visit our newly-opened office in Sydney! All in good time, I hope…
What skills are essential for the role you’re in?
Alongside the obvious knowledge of key principles of recruitment and HR, it’s important to be commercially-minded and intellectually curious to understand the business’ objectives and how to most effectively support these.
An eye for detail and keen organisation skills are also very useful, as there’s so much information to handle and coordinate at any one time, so you need to be able to spin a lot of plates concurrently!
Finally, honing the people skills required to be seen as approachable but respected by colleagues at all levels.
How did you get to where you are now?
I cut my teeth in recruitment agency straight after graduating, where I developed my skills in sales and negotiation, headhunting and candidate management, and got my first view of the ‘other side of the fence’ – internal HR and recruitment teams. Seeing what HR managers were doing in their roles and the breadth of activities they were involved in inspired me to make a move in-house, and I’ve been working up the ladder from there.
I’ve also completed a number of non-HR professional qualifications from project management through to marketing to enhance my understanding of the challenges faced by the employees I support, as well as developing my own skills in those areas.
What were your best subjects in school? What and where did you study?
Aside from French which feels like cheating because I’m dual nationality, English and Geography were my best subjects at school. I went on to do a Geography degree at Nottingham. In retrospect I might have studied something more HR-related but I had no idea what career path I would go down at that point!
What was your first job? How did you get it and why did you choose to work there?
I worked for an IT recruitment consultancy – they were looking for fresh graduates with an interest in sales. I chose to work there because I needed a job!
Have you followed the career path you set out to?
Ever since moving in-house I had a path in mind which involved taking on more responsibility, managing teams and developing professionally – which I’ve definitely managed to achieve so far. There’s plenty still to learn and achieve though.
What challenges have you faced along the way? How did you overcome them?
I worked in some companies where the values and work practices were not a good match with how I prefer to work, but I learned a lot about myself and what to look for in my next career move.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to land a job?
I made a 1-day round trip to London from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, where I was working at the time, for my interview at BookingBug. It was a 7-hour flight on the way out and 13 hours on the way back. Exhausting but it paid off – I got the job!
What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
Achieving the top employee performance rating within my first year in one of my previous companies. I was really proud of that as it was a technology and sales centric company and generally higher ratings were awarded to revenue-generating roles.
Do you have any career regrets?
I sometimes wonder whether I should have stuck it out at some of the companies where I didn’t have a very long tenure, but on balance I think the career moves I made have all been quite strategic and I wouldn’t be where I am now without them
What advice would you offer to others who are looking to get to where you are now?
Look outside of the traditional ‘HR’ skill set to develop yourself into a rounded, commercially-minded individual. You’ll be more valuable as a trusted business partner if you have an interest in the workings of the business and can demonstrate skills such as project management, negotiation, budget management, managing conflict, strategic planning etc.
What advice would you give to your 22-year-old self?
Speak up more in meetings, be more confident when talking to senior colleagues, and learn to think of HR as an iceberg where employees often only see the tip of what you’re actually working on. Developing good relationships, reporting on progress, managing expectations and communicating successes are important to being valued in your role.
- Coffee or tea? Coffee. I don’t have the patience to make a proper cup of tea so it invariably ends up looking and tasting like swamp water
- Jam or marmalade? Marmalade but only if the bits of peel have been removed
- The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? The Beatles. Such a feel-good vibe
- Mac or PC? PC. I never got into Macs, although that’s a regret
- The Guardian or The Times? The Guardian
- BBC or ITV? BBC
- M&S or Waitrose? Waitrose
- Morning or night? Night. In an ideal world I’d be asleep all morning
- Rain on snow? Snow if I had to choose but I’m not a big fan of precipitation in general
- Sweet or savoury? Savoury all the way. And a second starter in place of dessert!
- App: Citymapper. Just makes getting around in London so much easier
- TV show: Gogglebox. I get a round-up of everything that’s been going on that week on TV without having to watch it all – plus it’s hilarious to watch
- Band: Not a band as such but I’m enjoying Jessie Ware’s music at the moment
- Song: Tough Love by Jessie Ware
- Book: Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
- Sports team: West Ham
- Thing to do on a Friday night: Watch Gogglebox with friends and wine
- Place to eat: Anywhere Japanese, Vietnamese or Korean
- Holiday spot: Dubai
- Piece of advice you’ve been given: You spend a very significant proportion of our time and energy at work, so it’s really important to find a job where you feel positive when your alarm goes off in the morning rather than dreading going to the office
By Sarah Clark
Online features editor at Changeboard
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