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Career profile: Claire Beney, HR director, iotec Global

Posted on from Changeboard

Get to know your peers in the leadership community through our career profile series. Today, we talk to Claire Beney, HR director at iotec Global.

CV in brief

 

  • November 2015 - November 2016: HR Director, The Moment Content Company
  • September 2007 - October 2015: HR Business Advisor, Deutsche Bank
  • February 2002 - August 2007: Senior Complaints officer, Plymouth City Council

A day in your life

Tell us about your job and organisation 

I’m the HR director for iotec Global.  iotec are intent marketing specialists, applying machine learning to identify consumer intent without assumptions. 

We provide transparent media buying, intelligent insights and expertise to enable brands to understand and intelligently act in real context and in real time. 

Who do you report into?

This is fluid and dependant of the priorities that come in. I work closely with the Paul Wright as the CEO and Jenita Rahman as the CFO. 

Tell us about your team

We have a small team of Finance and HR support working across the entire Company. The team are really knowledgeable and cover all the transactional elements of HR as well as finance and payroll and are the first point of contact for many employees when they have a query. 

What is the most rewarding part of your role? 

Finding new ways to connect with our employees and be part of building a collaborative culture where everyone is free to be themselves. Seeing employees grow into new roles and succeed with their individual goals. 

What is the most challenging part of the role? 

The most challenging part of being in HR, for me personally, are the occasions where you need to downsize teams or departments. It’s a difficult part of the role and needs to be taken seriously and approached with respect. 

What does a typical day look like for you?

As this is a new role for iotec I’m currently focussed on drafting a people strategy that will be approved by the senior management team. The plan covers core functions of HR such as performance management and succession planning as well as learning and development. Days are typically varied as people will approach with different questions or concerns that may need dealing with immediately such as an employee welfare issues as well as ‘employee life cycle’ questions around paternity and maternity Leave or flexible working. I love the variety of the role and wouldn’t have it any other way!

Why did you choose your current organisation to work for?

iotec were very clear about what they were looking for when they created this role and the job spec was a great fit for me. The advert stood out from others of a similar level because of the focus on building a positive, empowering and collegiate culture. There is fantastic talent in the company at all levels but a draw for me was the chance to work with Paul Wright who has fantastic credentials and who is an inspiring leader. It was a very easy decision to say yes when the call came in! 

Perks and downsides of your role? 

Perks are working really closely with people and seeing positive change in individuals. Being in HR means that you have a really good understanding of the business and are privy to the inner workings of the company.

The one downside is that if there is bad news to break it is often your role to break it. You need to be strong and sensitive in equal measure. 

What skills are essential for the role you’re in? 

Absolutely key is the ability to form meaningful relationships with employees at all levels of the organisation. Ability to understand key legislation and the impact on your organisation. You need to be approachable but also professional and uphold the standards of the company. 

 

Career path

How did you get to where you are now?

I have always been open to new opportunities and challenges. Where I’ve had roles that stop providing a challenge I’ve looked for something new; either a project or I’ve gone back to study, I completed my graduate diploma in law whilst working full-time. I’ve worked hard for promotions and made sure that I have good reputation as someone credible and reliable. Hopefully I’ve been good company too!

What were your best subjects in school? What and where did you study?

I really enjoyed English and History in school and went on to study English Literature at Swansea University. I then studied Law at the BPP Law School in London. 

What was your first job? How did you get it and why did you choose to work there?

First job was working for social services, initially I had 2 part-time roles; one was a residential social worker supporting children in care and the other was a complaints assistant addressing complaints from users of social services. I had initially been temping for the council during university holidays and then found the opportunities to take on new roles permanently once I’d left university.  The work was challenging but really rewarding. Eventually I was promoted to manage the complaints function full-time and I oversaw the investigation of some really serious complaints alongside the Police and CPS. 

Have you followed the career path you set out to?

I haven’t had the most traditional path to become a HR director as my early career was in social services, however, I’ve been open to finding the role that has suited me best and I’m lucky that I am now in that role which makes great use of my skills, knowledge and experience.  

What challenges have you faced along the way? How did you overcome them?

Probably the biggest challenge I’ve faced has been successfully juggling being a mum to my two beautiful girls as well as continuing to progress my career. I know this is a challenge many parents face and it’s not one that is easy to fix but I try to make sure I prioritise key family moments like parents evenings with the new ‘always on’ culture when it comes to work. 

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to land a job?

I don’t know about crazy but the bravest thing I’ve done is leave a job I wasn’t happy in and have the self-belief that the right role would turn up and it always has. 

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?

It’s not being promoted or landing a new job although those moments have been really important to me. The proudest moments have been when I have been able to support employees in difficult and stressful situations and knowing that the support has made a difference to them and their families. 

Do you have any career regrets?

Not yet! I’ve tried roles that haven’t always suited me but the skills and experience I have gained have been invaluable. 

What advice would you offer to others who are looking to get to where you are now?

Find a mentor. I’ve been lucky to work with some wonderful HR professionals who have taken the time to explain their approach to any given situation. Keep yourself up to date with changes in legislation or new trends that impact the workplace. Care about your employees and be prepared to work hard and lead by example. 

What advice would you give to your 22-year-old self?

Stop spending money on shoes! Be patient when it comes to your career and remember this is a long game! 

 

Either/or

  • Coffee or tea? Neither - a cold drink. Preferably still with caffeine!
  • Jam or marmalade? Jam - reminds me of my Nan
  • The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? The Beatles
  • Mac or PC? Mac - I'm a new convert
  • The Guardian or The TimesThe Times
  • BBC or ITV? ITV - they brought back Cold Feet
  • M&S or Waitrose? M&S - love their food and shoes!
  • Morning or night? Morning - aided by caffeine!
  • Rain or snow? Snow - makes everywhere beautiful
  • Sweet or savoury? Sorry, I know it's a cliché but I have a sweet tooth. Anything chocolatey! 

Favourites

  • App: Nike running app - keeps me motivated
  • TV show: Friends
  • Band: Pink - love her music
  • Song: Iris by Goo Goo Dolls
  • Book: Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks - it's got everything you want in a novel
  • Sports team: I play badminton but also enjoy watching international rugby, football and athletics
  • Thing to do on a Friday night: Friday night is reserved for time with my lovely husband. Usually a bottle of fizz once the children are in bed or occasionally popping out for a few drinks
  • Place to eat: I love Italian food. Any nice Italian restaurant is good for me
  • Holiday spot: Somewhere sunny - this year we're heading to Gran Canaria
  • Piece of advice you've been given: I've been really lucky to have plenty of good advice over the years but probably learning the power of silence. You learn more from listening than talking!

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