As a child, what was your dream job?
I really wanted to be a game show host!
What was your first job?
I worked in a small local tearoom – we ate a lot of scones!
How has your career progressed/diversified/developed into what you do now?
I started my career in retail as part of a visual and creative team with a huge focus on product rather than people.
After a few years, I worked my way up to being a Visual Manager. I really enjoyed developing my skills to lead a team for the very first time. I then progressed into commercial retail management where I realised that the most enjoyable part of my job was the team (who knew!). This passion developed and I decided to take time out to retrain and specialise in HR. My experience as a line manager has been invaluable in the process, but I wanted to develop the specialist knowledge and skills required. I paused my career, went to college in the evenings to study the CIPD Certificate in Human Resource Management and then followed to university to study an MA in Human Resource Management – during which I worked in a lovely coffee shop part time too. I have worked as a HR manager within organisations and a HR Consultant ever since.
Have you always wanted to work in HR? Have you had any major career changes?
I don’t think I knew what HR was for a long time! At the time, I was very happy to dress windows and create displays; I loved it. The journey through my career as roles developed and changed led me to HR.
What was the worst job you had, and why?
I don’t think I have had a ‘worse job’, but there’s been things that have been challenging in each job. When I worked as part of a visual team on Oxford Street in London, I found working overnight really hard (I usually go to bed at 8.30pm!) – making decisions at 4am about layouts and keeping a team motivated at that time was exhausting.
What was your favourite job (not including your current one!) and why?
Hard to choose! I have two which are really different – can I cheat and have two?
My favourite job(s) – aside from my current role – are when I was working at Charlies coffee shop whilst I was studying, I loved chatting to the customers, both locals and people on holiday. It was a lovely environment to work in which made it a firm favourite. Secondly, I found working as a research assistant at the University of Plymouth fascinating. Working with a group of four co-researchers, I learnt so much, which is why I think I enjoyed it so much.
What piece of advice would you give to your younger self in terms of careers?
Don’t limit yourself to one industry or sector.
What piece of advice would you give to someone who doesn’t know what they want to do?
I think we all underestimate how valuable transferable skills are. Skills developed in any role can be used in the future. So, if you’re doing a role, which perhaps isn’t your dream role, you are still working towards it and you can use the skills gained for the future – you would be amazed what comes in handy from previous roles.
What would you say to someone looking to re-train and take their career in a different direction?
Firstly, look for support from your current organisation. This might be something that they can support you with, or offer experience of working in another department. If it’s a considered choice, and something you are able to do – go for it!
AUTHOR: Grace Williams
– Remote HR Consultant for Sue Willmott HR & Careers Consultancy.
I am an Associate Member of the CIPD and hold an MA with Distinction in Human Resource Management (Level 7, CIPD).
You can contact me here: