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Spotlight on Amanda Russell

What inspired you to get into HR?

At university, I told my tutor that I was considering an HR career. He said I’d probably be quite good at it if I was a man! That was it! My mind was made up…

Can you share some highlights from your career to date?

My first HR job was in the NHS. It was a great place to learn within a unionised environment. They supported my CIPD studies, but I found it too bureaucratic. I saw an HR job advertised for Amstrad, and was lucky enough to get it. I was the first HR person Amstrad employed!

I left Amstrad with a few others to be part of the start-up team of ONdigital, the world’s first digital terrestrial network. My role was to recruit like mad ready for its launch and then help integrate the business into the ITV Group. I’ve got a fond memory of taking the famous ONdigital monkey home on the train just prior to launch – It got loads of attention! I had the best of times there, until it went into administration. I worked with administrators to sadly close the business.

My next job was at Eisai, a Japanese pharmaceutical company, where I was part of the team (coincidentally working with Brian Wilson from the Guildford territory) responsible for relocating the UK head Office in London to a brand new R&D and manufacturing facility and European headquarters in Hertfordshire.

After that I supported the integration of a privately-owned industrial inkjet facility into Royal Tencate, a Dutch multinational company. I ended up leaving with the original entrepreneurial owner to help him start up a new business where we ran the ‘Industrial Inkjet Training Academy’, delivering training across Hong Kong and China.

My last ‘employed’ HR role involved the construction of a manufacturing facility for Procter and Gamble.

In your experience, are some sectors worse than others for generating HR problems?

In the short time I’ve been an HR Dept licensee, and from my own practical experience, I would say retail stands out. I’m already coming across examples of poor planning and even poorer management of employees, leading to unproductive and unmotivated teams.

Retail is notorious for having a high staff turnover rate and seasonal fluctuations. Employees constantly miss out on the training they desperately need to do their job properly. This makes it more difficult to build customer loyalty, so recruiting the right people with the right attitude is a must! Then pay them fairly so they stay long enough to develop!

If you were not working in HR, what would you love to be doing?

I’d love to be building a house in a remote part of Scotland near mountains and with views of a loch. I’d rent it out for a few years and then ultimately retire there with my partner, Nick, and the dogs. One day!