A/N our interviewee this week has transitioned from a successful 22 year career in the Royal Airforce to private enterprise….read on to discover how.
Tell us a little about your career and how you ended up where you are today.
I left school at 18 and joined the Royal Air Force a year later, having had a number of part-time jobs, bar work etc. I joined as an Admin Clerk and progressed through the ranks and HR roles for the next 22 years.
I left the RAF 10 years ago and remained in HR. I worked in Edinburgh for the NHS for 9 years then moved to Stafford 2 years ago and now have an HR Manager position in a computer company.
What makes someone good in your chosen field?
I think you need to be compassionate and empathetic where necessary but also be firm and determined when required. Some of the jobs that HR Managers have to do are not always pleasant, such as dismissals and disciplinaries, but employment law is fascinating and the employee support side of HR can be very rewarding. You also have to have exceptional attention to detail!
What mediums/areas do you mostly operate in?
I operate mostly in employee and business support.
What can be challenging about your profession?
Dealing with people always has its challenges, particularly when dealing with disciplinary matters or when dealing with conflict.
What do you most like about your profession?
I love the challenge of dealing with different people and to be able to see change taking place to benefit employees.
What has been your most embarrassing professional moment?
It wasn’t embarrassing for me, but it did end up being embarrassing for the officer who took me on! I was 8 months pregnant and had been asked to run a Court-Martial on the base I was on. One officer had the temerity to ask me if I could “cope”…you can imagine my response and he ended up with egg on his face – plus the Court-Martial was very successful!
What has been your most nerve-wracking professional moment?
Going for my first job after leaving the RAF…I hadn’t had a job interview for 22 years…I ended up getting the job and staying in it for a couple of years, despite my nerves at interview.
What one piece of advice would you give someone starting out their careers; especially in your field?
Make sure you know your employment law, if not, then check, check and check again. HR administration takes a lot of time, effort and checking, often people’s careers are at stake. Always remember that you are dealing with real people.
Andrea Fraser is HR Manager dealing with all aspects of HR, including disciplinary, employment law, policy and process implementation.