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HR: The right person for the job

Having traded the hustle and bustle of Gatwick Airport for our HQ, Bianca is now an integral member of our HR team. She may not have known the difference between a closed and a drainable stoma pouch when she arrived, but her longer-than-usual lockdown induction meant she had plenty of time to learn all about them, and the people and processes involved in manufacturing them. We chatted to her about her career to date.

How long have you been at Welland Medical?

“I started at Welland on the 1 April last year, the week after we went into lockdown. I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to start as my team was working from home at that stage. What I didn’t know initially was that we were all designated keyworkers. They told me they could not onboard me to the HR team just yet, but then asked if I’d be interested in working in operations to start with initially. I jumped at the chance and said yes!

“So, with my new safety shoes on, that is what I did for the first month, and it was a great introduction to the business. I joined without any manufacturing experience or knowledge of stomas, but this way I was able to learn a lot – and very quickly! The different shift patterns, safety policies and procedures, as well as the different roles across the manufacturing floor. I met most of the Operations and Quality Assurance and Regulatory departments – it was great to meet so many people and from the beginning I was very welcomed.

“One of the Cell Team Leaders challenged me to a competition to pack washers; I wasn’t as quick as him, but I did my best. I will be going back for a rematch soon! So now I have a good basic understanding of the product and what’s involved in making it, but I know there is so much more to learn!

“In non-Covid times, I would have perhaps got to spend a few hours on the shop floor as part of my induction, but this was much better. Especially because everyone was open to all my questions, and trust me, I had a lot!”

What does your day-to-day role at Welland involve?

“Working in HR means preparing for the unexpected – every day can be different, and I really enjoy that variety. It can range from supporting line managers and employees to being the first point of call for day-to-day queries, absence management or processing contractual changes.

“Predominantly I manage all of the internal and external recruitment for Welland. My day can include interviews with hiring managers about upcoming roles, talent and resource planning, following up on references for new staff, or organising inductions and the onboarding processes.

“In both HR and recruitment, you have to really enjoy working with people. You need to create positive relationships with both the candidates and hiring managers, so a lot of my time is spent on building and maintaining those.

“I’m often the first point of call for candidates and new starters which means I have the really important role of introducing them to the business and supporting them through their first few weeks.

“For me, recruiting the right person for a role is the most satisfying feeling. Especially when you begin to see the positive impact that a person has on the business. Working at Welland, getting the right candidate for the role also means I get to play a small part in helping enhance the lives of people with stomas, which is so rewarding.”

Are there skills or knowledge particular to the medical device industry that you need in your role?

“Not necessarily skills, but knowledge, definitely. Like with any new industry you need to learn about the different types of roles and processes. Many of the roles at Welland are very specific to manufacturing and the medical device industry. These were all new to me and I have had to go through everything very thoroughly with the hiring managers to understand exactly what the role entails so that I can align the person and the skillset.

“You must also have up-to-date knowledge of current and upcoming legislation and HR practices.”

What path have you taken to reach your current HR role?

“While I was at university doing a degree in business management, I had a part-time job as bar staff at JD Wetherspoon, which led to managing one of the company’s three sites at Gatwick Airport. As a manager I was exposed to the HR processes and people management and after having studied one of my university modules in Human Resource Management which I excelled in, I knew I wanted to gain more knowledge in that topic in particular, as I found it very interesting.

“My manager always knew I was interested in HR and I was very thankful when she asked if I would be interested in managing the entire recruitment process, and training and development for all four sites. I jumped at the chance!

“I did this role on my own, so there was a lot to learn and I had to do it quickly in a fast-paced environment, but it gave me great experience into resource and talent management. Also, it was within the context of Gatwick Airport, so the screening processes were much stricter. Besides the referencing for new starters, I had to manage airport security passes, and apply and manage the criminal record checks for over 400 people, as well as organising recruitment events and designing recruitment merchandise. It was stressful at times, but I believe I really thrive under pressure.

“I loved the hustle and bustle of working at Gatwick and when I felt it was time to step out of my comfort zone, I saw an opportunity and applied for a role at the airport company itself – Gatwick Airport Limited – working as a recruitment and onboarding specialist in their HR department. This gave me exposure to lots of different stakeholders, working on different projects. When my fixed-term contract came to an end, I applied for my role here at Welland.”

What personal traits do you think serve you well in your role?

“In HR you absolutely have to enjoy working with people. For this, communication skills are critical. I think being extremely organised and managing time well are other skills that serve me well. I write my to-do lists every morning, and I love a good highlighter!

“You also need to be extremely meticulous with documents such as job offers, contracts, etc. I will double and triple check everything because they simply cannot go out wrong.

“Finally, I’d say being always being prepared for the unexpected! That helps in this role.”

Where should someone start if they’re interested in a career in HR?

“I do think industry experience is very relevant in this role. I was lucky to get into HR originally with my experience as a people manager. I’m currently revisiting finishing my Level 7 CIPD qualification. However, if you can get HR-related experience and gain experience in people and performance management then you don’t necessarily need the CIPD qualification, I think relevant day-to-day experience in managing people in business is just as important.

“As I said, you do need to enjoy working with people and have to be very organised with great communication skills. You also need to be happy working to deadlines and enjoy variety.”

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