Deborah Dalglish didn’t intend on having a hugely successful career in HR. She went to technical college in London with the aim of becoming a telephone engineer and made her mark with BT, eventually delivering public pay phones as part of a two-year programme that resulted in a combined increased revenue of £11 million.
“It was the perfect job but driving a van had run its course and I became very interested in the business side of things, so I looked for a change in career,” said Deborah. “I had a business degree and a diploma in management, so I secured a role at Serco based at RAF Northolt providing support on bid work and people management; these were my initial steps into HR.”
During the first couple of years, Deborah was sponsored to complete an MBA and was consequently promoted to Business Manager. She had contract manager responsibilities for the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) at the Royal London Hospital and was departmental manager for the Visiting Aircraft Servicing Section in Northolt. It was here that her role turned into HR Operations.
Deborah added: “I was again sponsored to complete a masters in HR and it was a pivotal move in my career and one that made me very happy; I was given an amazing opportunity.”
A move to Dorset and varied HR roles followed
After relocating to Dorset 10 years ago, Deborah has had a variety of HR roles that have enabled her to put her qualifications and past experience into practise. This includes working as a senior HR Business Partner for an American telecommunications company where she introduced the Institute of Telecommunications Professionals (ITP) into the business to help employees to attain appropriate professional status, accreditation and development opportunities. She then took on a role as Site HR Manager for Cobham where she delivered a reward and recognition programme, which looked at tenure and nomination for achieving within the business.
“For three years I arranged some amazing award dinners at high end venues and felt extremely privileged to be working at such a positive end of HR,” added Deborah. “Then an opening presented itself at Sunseeker in Poole as Head of Employee Relations.”
Working in such a complex and fast-paced business environment with high employee volume added even more dynamic experience to Deborah’s list of HR credentials, which she now utilises as HR Lead for Carlisle Fluid Technologies UK.
The American company, which produces spray finishing equipment, has offices all over the world and acquired Shinhang Inc in Korea in May and Ecco Finishing in Sweden in July. In a short time, Deborah’s role has extended from outside the UK to across Europe, the Middle East and India. Continuous product development and expansion into other countries also means that Deborah’s role is diverse and changing all of the time.
Deborah commented: “We have had some recent changes in Australia and currently I’m working with the USA on a global-wide initiative to update the payroll system and introduce new ways to manage performance. I get to work on a real mix of things coupled with different cultures in different time zones. As such, there is no typical day but one constant is that the senior leadership team go to a board meeting every morning where we look at reds and greens in safety, quality, delivery and cost.”
Why qualifications count
While Deborah’s route into HR may not be a typical academic one, she is extremely proud of her qualifications and believes that they validate her experience and give her personal credibility.
At the same time, she feels all HR professionals should have passion, agility and problem-solving skills:
“I genuinely care about the wellbeing of people, which makes my job all the more enjoyable. In such a fluid industry as HR, you also need to be able to move swiftly from one thing to another and pick up where you left off.
“Above all, problem-solving and good communication are critical skills needed. Often the issue only gets to your desk when no one else can solve it but you have to find a resolution, be good listeners and deliver news, good or bad, in a timely way.”
HR challenges are three-fold
Having more than 20 years’ experience behind her as well as two masters’ degrees, Deborah not only has the theory of HR to fall back on, but also the practical expertise from several business environments. It’s this expertise and knowledge that has given her a ‘triangle’ perspective of current HR challenges.
“You can look at the HR challenges from three angles: From an employee perspective, everyone wants development, training, the right pay and recognition. Employers, on the other hand, need to manage change effectively, find, retain and recognise talent better and manage performance, good or bad. From my view, it’s compliance and the administrative burden of ongoing legislative changes but as a HR professional, it’s my job to manage the challenges of all three perspectives.”
Suzanne Sherriff MIRP
Suzanne leads a team dealing with temporary jobs. Having started her recruitment career in 2005, she has over a decade of recruitment experience. Suzanne works across all of the agency’s core industries on temporary, contract and interim roles. She places a big emphasis on delivery and accountability and never gives …