“I’ve learnt more in the last six months at EML than in the previous decade of my career.”
To mark National Storytelling day it’s time to grill our newest HR Consultant, Garry Humphreys. In this post, Garry shares the story of his career to date – and some lessons he’s learnt along the way.
An Education in Law
I studied Law at Sheffield Hallam University. I was interested in Family Law and wanted to keep my options open. I soon realised I wasn’t cut out for a career as a solicitor but enjoyed my time as a student nevertheless. It’s ironic considering I now spend my working life investigating employment law issues and love every minute of it!
I took various roles in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector, to tide me over whilst studying and after graduating university. I loved the buzz of the hospitality industry and it’s become a bit of a speciality in the support we provide to hospitality and leisure sector clients at EML. Working as a Bar Supervisor gave me first hand experience of the HR issues these businesses face. I’m familiar with that sinking feeling managers get when three employees call in sick on the same day and you still have to find a way to open your doors and serve paying customers. Dealing with sickness and absence is a challenge and one area of employee relations I advise clients on.
A learning experience in the classroom
After an epiphany, I decided to train to be a teacher. I had high hopes of inspiring a generation of scientists, entrepreneurs and doctors. I spent 18 months working as a classroom assistant and supply teacher to build up experience. The plan was to do my PGCE qualification. However, the reality of teaching appeared to be more about trying to control a class of 30 kids, which became less appealing. I have the utmost respect for those that pursue this career.
Supporting the unemployed back into work
One of my most rewarding roles was in learning and development supporting young jobseekers to find work. The candidates were all of a similar age to me so I found them easy to relate to. Helping them to find work, apply for roles and prepare for interview gave me an enormous sense of pride and achievement. It was so important to listen and understand the challenges each person faced and present him or her with a series of options for their individual situation.
I recall one young man who wanted to become a photographer. Obviously these aren’t positions that come up every day, especially for those with limited experience. So we helped him enrol on a college course to develop his skills and follow his passion. This demonstrated by ability to think outside of the box, and this approach now allows me to provide a variety of options for my clients.
Off the back of this role, I was inspired to enrol in a CIPD course and embarked on my career in HR.
Delivering in challenging circumstances
Prior to joining EML, I worked as a Senior HR Adviser and Employee Relations Specialist at a large facilities management company in Manchester. For over three years the cases came thick and fast. I worked on disciplinary hearings, restructures and redundancy cases across sport, transport, hospitality and education.
The most challenging project was an internal restructure where many of the colleagues involved were my friends. We worked with an external consultancy (similar to EML) on the project but upon review, I can see that it wasn’t managed to the level that was required. I learnt the value of consistent and accurate communications, as well as the importance of developing a clear plan and strategy at the outset.
I love the variety of my work as an HR Consultant
This week I’ve been working on a variety of cases including:
- Preparing employment contracts and handbooks for companies ranging from 2 – 100 employees
- Providing on-site consultancy on restructures, disciplinary hearings and investigations
- Responding to general HR queries such as how to terminate an employment contract for someone on long-term sick leave, and advising on the rather unusual case of an employee requesting a demotion.
A steep learning curve
I’ve learnt more in the last six months at EML than the previous decade of my career. It’s been a steep learning curve and you never know what kind of projects will land on your desk each day. This is something I know the entire team thrive on and just one of the many reasons why clients choose to work with us.
If I didn’t work at EML I would be…
…a sports performance coach. People like Dave Brailsford are an inspiration to me. I’m always looking for ways to improve and recognise that small changes can make a big difference to the performance of an individual or organisation.
One of my personal ambitions is to participate in a cycle race across America. There’s an annual race that runs from LA to Chicago and I’d love to take part. It’s going to take me a few years to get there but I’m determined to cross it off my bucket list.
The next instalment of my story
I’m looking forward to becoming accredited to provide mediation services. It’s something I’ve touched on in past roles and I know this will be a valuable new service offering for our clients.