working girl: florence carter

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Meet the “real Mrs. Carter,” Mrs. Florence Carter that is. Hailing from the bustling city of London, Florence was always interested in how and why people think the way they do.  This interest got her through Law school but ultimately landed her in Human Resources where she plays a pivotal role in the cycle of an employee’s career.

Stats:

Name: Florence Carter

Age:  30

Location: London, UK

Profession: Human Resources & Talent Manager

Work:

How did you get started?

I’ve always been fascinated by people – how and why we think the way we do. I’ve also been interested in helping people in an advisory capacity – providing clarity and finding solutions to their problems.  Naturally, I imagined that I would study and pursue a career in psychology. However, I decided to pursue a law degree, as I felt it was a strong and credible degree to have; it also satisfied my interest in advising and helping people.

Soon after completing my law degree, I attempted to pursue a career within the law profession, however I soon recognised that it didn’t fit my personality and I found it quite methodical and rigid in a sense. I still held on to my deep fascination with people and understanding how and why people think and behave the way they do, which led me to complete a Masters in Human Resource Management and I immediately knew this was the profession for me – understanding different people’s motivations and finding solutions to keep employees engaged. The combination of studying law, followed by HR was perfect. My legal background gave me a process-driven outlook and an easier understanding of employment law, which is essential to any HR professional.

To get on the HR career ladder I started off working as a Resourcer for a small management consultancy in the city, before I went on to work for a large global property consultancy working in a large HR department. My next role was pivotal in my career. It was a stand-alone HR position for a small IT Consultancy.  There was a lot of self-learning and using my own initiative; so the position gave me the opportunity to define my own role and career. I then went on to work for a bigger IT & management consultancy for some time before I ended up where I am now – in a global digital solutions company based in the heart of the City of London.

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What’s an average day like?

I work in the City of London, which can get overly crowded and stressful during rush hour, so I like to get into work a little earlier, to compose myself and settle down before the work day begins. I usually arrive at work for 8:30am, make some breakfast in the office kitchen or grab something from a café on my way in. I spend the first 30 minutes checking emails, checking my diary and preparing for any meetings I have scheduled for the day, and where possible, I also use this time to plan my day ahead.

This sounds cliché, but in the world of HR, no two days are the same. Some elements of my job is process-driven, like running – which is our appraisal process, or our annual graduate recruitment programme, coordinating internal training sessions, and facilitating employee engagement surveys. However, a big bulk of HR is very much reactive – responding and adapting to company changes which may mean we suddenly need to ramp up our recruitment activity at the drop of a hat.

Most days I meet with managers to advise them on how to deal with any personnel issues (applying best practice) or to discuss resource planning for their department.  Likewise, I often have meetings with staff to answer any queries relating to company policies and procedures or just catch up to see how they’re doing.

Social media is the current trend, particularly in the working world and HR is able to take full advantage of it. Every other day, I ensure that I schedule some time in my day to refresh job vacancies on social networking sites such as LinkedIn, participate in relevant technology-related forums and engage with candidates on a regular basis.

My work day usually ends at about 6 or 6:30pm; although I like to stay on a little later to ensure emails are answered and to tie up any loose ends or admin tasks I was unable do during the day.

I find exercise is the best way for me to unwind after a busy day at work. I normally go to Body Pump and Zumba classes twice a week. I am obsessed with Zumba! It satisfies my passion for dance and is complete escapism for me. My love for Zumba has resulted in me becoming qualified as a Zumba Instructor. One day (time permitting) I plan to run classes, for friends and the general public, once a week after work.

Why do you do it?

Simply because I love people. I enjoy being around people and interacting with them.

I thrive on the variety and challenges that HR brings. I like being able to have an impact and be involved in the complete cycle of an employee’s career — from recruiting, to seeing an employee develop and progress within a company. Being able to facilitate that process makes me tick.

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Ups and downs you sometimes face on the job:

Ups: I love the strategic element of my role: being able to make a real difference to the business. I enjoy working closely with key stakeholders of the business and using HR Management to align with the company’s strategy and goals. I get the greatest satisfaction from helping managers and directors with finding solutions to more long-term personnel issues and using my knowledge and experience in HR to address macro-concerns about quality, culture, values and matching resources to future requirements. These are all big drivers to a company’s success. Therefore seeing the contribution and the positive impact I have on these areas, drives me.

Downs: Working in the candidate-driven labour market of IT can be challenging.  It can make it difficult to acquire talent as quickly as you want and need. Which is why we have to work extra hard at engaging candidates throughout the whole recruitment process and using current social media tools to your advantage. Other ‘downs’ that are part of the job include having to make difficult decisions and breaking bad news to staff. With more experience; however I have become more comfortable with this, but it never gets easier.

Your greatest achievement so far?

This is the toughest question to answer because it is difficult to pinpoint my greatest achievement. Throughout my life I have achieved many successes from earning a law degree, progressing well in my career or buying a house. The key point is the hard work it has taken to get to where I am today and the opportunities I have been given. But ultimately it is what I have done with those opportunities that count.

What might be next for you?  

I would like to see myself as an HR Director, where I can have a direct impact on the people decisions concerning the business.

Hair:

What are your top 5 hair tips?

  1. I use Hair Mayonnaise hair treatment under a heat cap every so often to strengthen my hair and keep it well conditioned.
  2. Every night, I wrap my hair up in a breathable headscarf or better still a hair net.
  3. I give my hair a lot of rest by braiding – which is my signature look! It gives my hair a break from heat-based styles and allows it to grow quicker.
  4. I try to trim my hair every 6-8 weeks to get rid of split ends and aid growth.
  5. I use a texturiser instead of a relaxer because it’s gentler but does the same job! I made the switch after I went all-natural following a mishap with relaxer. Since switching to texturisers, I get fewer breakages and I have not needed to go ‘emergency’ natural since!

Fun Fact:  

Florence kept a diary that she wrote in almost every day of her teenage life, while attending boarding school.  It has been her dream to one day write a book based on the diary, mapping out her adventures and struggles growing up as a teenager!

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