Working for an SME is a world away from life in a multinational organisation – but it has its benefits, too! Here, our Head of HR, Adrian McShane-Chapman, shares his thoughts on life in the HR function in one of the UK’s fastest growing technology companies.
Having spent 8 years working for large, multinational organisations, moving to an SME was a big step. But taking the plunge and joining Empowered was an opportunity that really excited me, as an HR practitioner.
For the majority of my career, I had been growing my experience in larger corporate organisations. Having had the advantage of being part of a number of different HR structures, I have been able to see the benefits and the pitfalls of these structures and the approach to various aspects of HR that needed to be taken, or in some instances, should have been taken. Generally, in a larger organisation, HR works in silos, where different HR Professionals will specialise in areas such as Learning and Development, Employment Regulation and Rewards and Benefits. I tended to work more across the board as a Generalist HR Professional, who specialised in Employment Law and acted as a trusted business partner to various Senior Management Teams. I also developed an interest and experience in Mergers and Acquisitions and Organisational Development.
So in 2014, there were a number of reasons that encouraged me to move from a bigger organisation to a smaller company. However, I was really excited about having the ability to make a significant impact in the organisation and to shape a very new function. I now found myself in a position where I was able to really shape and mould the full HR spectrum for Empowered and grow my own experience in areas that I previously may have only had an awareness of, or a limited opportunity to undertake.
Having previously worked at Capita and Betfair, I knew that HR had to be instrumental in helping a business make the right decisions. I believed I could do that and be more commercially aware and astute in Empowered than I believe HR is allowed to be in larger organisations.
Empowered has a team of 65 staff and we are a growing business, so I actually get to be involved with the decision-makers in the company. My relationship with our co-founders has developed so that they can confide in me and we are able talk to about the people implications of the company’s business strategy.
Additionally, because I have the opportunity to wear a few different hats, there is an amazing sense of camaraderie and working towards common goals, as well as coping with the unexpected demands that get thrown at you. A big difference working for an SME is that you have to be prepared to roll up your sleeves and dive in, which can mean that I get to be involved on a daily basis with things such as managing new starter inductions, attend team meetings and if required, supporting Facilities.
Heading up the HR function in Empowered has undoubtedly helped me to grow, both in hands-on experience and management, but has also given me the ability to operate at a more strategic level, with such a close team and working relationship with the Board.