As a child, what was your dream job?
As I child I wanted to do anything sporty, especially football! I played a lot of football at primary school and really enjoyed being part of a team.
What was your first job?
Apart from the odd babysitting duty, my first regular job was following in the footsteps of my sisters – washer upper and KP in the pub just up the lane from the family home. I remember saving up for my first hi fi/record player (#feeling old!).
How has your career progressed/diversified/developed into what you do now?
My roles have always been people focused, even if they didn’t start that way. They always involved being part of a team and supporting colleagues with training and development.
Have you always wanted to work in HR and Careers?
Early on in my career, I had developed as a team leader and line manager. My first encounter with HR was as a training and recruitment officer for a large holiday company which then evolved into HR. Later on I began working in a hotel as a HR Manager. I then became an Employment Facilitator, which created my interest in careers coaching. The 2 roles compliment each other nicely. In between I have been a washer upper, volunteer, administrator, sports instructor, security officer, bars and catering manger, dog sitter and poll clerk for local elections!
What was the worst job you had, and why?
I have had a varied and interesting career pathway, in each and every role I have worked with and met some fantastic people who I am still proud to call friends. Some jobs have been more challenging due to the nature of the role. Most challenging I found was a retail manager (bars and catering) – I had a great team but in those days of smoking in venues, the biggest challenge was the hours worked and still trying to keep the energy levels high. Regularly recording 70-90 hour weeks was not sustainable. Fortunately for people in those roles now there is the Working Time Directive.
What was your favourite job (not including your current one!) and why?
Being cheeky I can’t choose just 1, there have been a few jobs.
I have taken something away from every job I have done and could pick something about each of them, but two key jobs helped me to develop my skills and contribute to my later careers choices. One of those was as a Voluntary Worker with Churchtown Farm in Lanlivery. It is a bespoke centre for people with disabilities and their families who were enjoying activity holidays. A humbling experience, great people, steep learning curves, starting to understand abilities rather than disabilities, and learning to sail (ish!). The second was as the Sports leader and Assistant Manager at Duporth Holiday Village. Amazing people, wonderful location to call home, interesting complaints to deal with and a wonderful place for my young niece and nephews to visit and make the most of the leisure facilities.
What piece of advice would you give to your younger self in terms of careers?
If you see an opportunity which appeals to you, apply and go for it! Do not be afraid to say you don’t know and be keen to learn. In interviews and when you join a new company the interviewers and colleagues will see your potential even though you may have doubts/concerns. Lastly, always leave a place as if you are looking to return in the future.
What piece of advice would you give to someone who doesn’t know what they want to do?
Think about what tasks in a job advert you think you would like to do. Keep talking to people in your network. Every job you do will help you to develop your skills and you will find the opportunity that suits you or your circumstances at time. Working in a business where you enjoy working with your team, serving your customers and finding the business which links with your values. You will find it. Sometimes you may have to side step or re assess to move forward. Be brave and give it a go.
What would you say to someone looking to re-train and take their career in a different direction?
As a person who achieved a number of qualifications through work, I am fully supportive of people who want to continue to train and develop their skills. With the world of work changing so much, we need to keep learning and evolving to be our best selves through formal courses or self learning. We also meet new friends and learn so much from other delegates on courses. My 27 year ‘gap year’ ended in 2016 when I had my first taste of University when embarked on my Masters in HR at the University of Plymouth, drawing on many experiences from courses and employment, it was challenging but very rewarding.
Have you always aspired to run your own business?
Running my own business had never been on the radar for me, although most of my family influencers have run their own business.
Employing a team was even further away. The opportunity arose through a wonderful contact and set of circumstances, with the support from my nearest and dearest I stepped into a new world. I feel in a very fortunate position that we have amazing customers and we endeavour to provide the best support for them. Whether business customers, or individuals taking the first step on their careers journey or exploring new opportunities. I am very proud and in awe of my colleagues both within the business and in associated organisations, and I continue to learn.
AUTHOR: Sue Willmott
– Remote HR and Careers Consultant for Sue Willmott HR & Careers Consultancy.
I am an Associate Member of the CIPD. I hold an MA in Human Resource Management and an ILM Level 5 Coaching and Mentoring. We are Matrix Accredited and a member of the Careers Development Institute.
You can contact me here: