Chris NagelTo celebrate International Men’s day, we sat down for a chat with one of our directors and leaders. Chris Nagel joined EML as a Graduate Trainee back in 2001 and is now our Director and Head of HR. He gave us his thoughts on men working in HR, male role models and the EML way of doing things.

What is your role at EML?

As a Director, I’m in continual dialogue with our Managing Director, Debbie Knowles, about every aspect of the business. From recruitment, service delivery, advertising, business development, and sales and marketing, right through to the overall strategic direction, structure and performance of the business.

In my role as Head of HR, I oversee the services we provide to our clients, which includes allocating work, preparing proposals and managing contract renewals. I’m a sounding board for the team and still retain contract management responsibility for a handful of clients, working on ad-hoc projects when the need arises.

How would you describe the EML way of doing things?

We always have our client’s best interests at heart and want them to feel like we’re one of their team. Our approach is no-nonsense, down-to-earth and good humoured.

It’s not our job to place obstacles in the client’s way. We advise on how they can achieve their commercial objectives whilst remaining compliant with employment law, and making sure they are fully aware of the risks of non-compliance. If legal claims materialise, we’ll give our views on the likely chances of success, the cost of any award and how much it will cost to defend so the client can make an informed decision on whether to prioritise fighting or settling. Depending on the client’s preference, we’ll then either defend them to the hilt or work towards the best possible settlement.

What do you enjoy most about working at EML?

EML leaders Chris Nagel Debbie Knowles

Our leaders and directors, Chris Nagel and Debbie Knowles.

We never quite know what issues may arise each day so it really keeps me on my toes. Being flexible and responsive is a huge part of our service offering. In HR and employment law, circumstances can change dramatically in a short space of time. If we get a call from a client asking for guidance, we’ll generally respond to them within the hour. Many of our clients’ operations run overnight and at weekends so they need to be able to reach us around the clock. We go above and beyond to service our clients and evolve our approach to meet their needs. We’re always on call and available for meetings out of hours as required.

How does it feel to be a man working in an industry dominated by females?

Great! Seriously though, I’ve never paid much attention to it. Being good at your job in this field has nothing to do with your gender as far as I’m concerned…and nor does your approach to HR issues.

What’s the one piece of advice you would give to male leaders?

Talk is cheap.

Tell us about the positive male role models in your life

My dad taught me the importance of humility and compassion.

My grandad was also a big influence as far as the importance of listening is concerned. That led me to appreciate the value of not verbalising every thought that comes into your head. All these lessons have stood me in good stead throughout my career.

Are there any inspirational male leaders you admire?

It’s no secret that I’m a Manchester United fan, so I have to say Sir Alex Ferguson. His drive, determination, vision and immense man-management skills are unsurpassed. He knew everyone at the club and made time for him or her, regardless of status. It also helps that he won one or two trophies along the way!

I’d also say Roy Keane and Bryan Robson for their never say die attitudes and ability to step up to the plate when things weren’t going well for the team. They grabbed games by the scruff of the neck and lead by example to inspire the team to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

What’s your proudest achievement?

My three amazing, infuriating, hilarious, knackering, frustrating, inspiring kids: Sophia (12), Joseph (9) and William (6).

Name one book that changed your life

It’s hard to choose between Animal Farm and 1984. I read both during my teens. Animal Farm just blew me away, confirming many of the beliefs I’d developed about social structures and just how susceptible people can be to the corrupting effects of power. Reading 1984 made me see that real life is very different to the one I’d lived as a child. Orwell’s writing is perhaps more relevant today as it was in the 1940s.

If you’d like to continue the conversation with Chris or debate any of the opinions in this blog (and he’d love to do so!), you can contact him here or on 01942 727200.