What do you do at SL Controls?
I wear two hats. One is HR Manager, which means having responsibility for the full HR lifecycle. This includes everything from onboarding and induction to performance management, employee relations, and employee communication.
My second hat is as a member of the SL Controls senior leadership team. This is the team that is responsible for running the business, so it is more of a strategic role compared to my responsibilities as HR manager. It involves things like change management, organisation design, organisation development, strategic planning, and so on.
Describe your job without using the word HR.
My job involves several responsibilities and overseeing the running of a number of initiatives – really, it’s about keeping a number of plates spinning. One part of my role that I particularly enjoy is supporting and coaching our people managers as they work with their teams. We have a process in place where every manager has at least one monthly one-to-one with each member of their team. Initiatives like this are not only hugely important but also very rewarding for everyone involved.
I also conduct regular benchmarking of salaries and benefits – it is important that we remain aware of industry trends. Another part of my role is my involvement in initiatives with our commercial and technical teams, ensuring we have interesting projects coming in and a dynamic range of customers, helping to keep our employees motivated and challenged.
We also look at what’s coming next – what’s the next thing we need to know about as we are in an industry that doesn’t standstill. Knowing about it early ensures we can give people scope to get trained, gain exposure, and build up experience. Activities like our Skills Base surveys help to gather information on our employees’ competencies, which we then analyse in line with our technical roadmap to identify both skills gaps and opportunities.
It’s also about understanding what is important to our employees, as it’s not just salary. For some, it is flexibility, work-life balance, and working remotely, while for others good health insurance and a strong pension are priorities. Others still put a larger emphasis on our activities around Wellness. As HR Manager, I need to ensure we have a balance so that we can meet the needs of as many employees as possible.
On the fun side, we do employee appreciation events regularly and we have a weekly virtual canteen. We also run various wellbeing initiatives throughout the year.
What made you want to build your career in HR?
I got into it when I was in secondary school, although they called it personnel then. Quite honestly, I don’t know how I came up with it. I didn’t know anyone who worked in HR, but I knew I wanted a career dealing with people – hiring, working with people, etc.
I went to UL to get a degree in business with a major in HR, and it’s been a passion of mine all the way through. Once I qualified and started to work, I’ve always worked hard, and opportunities have presented themselves. I have never worked in another area, but I’ve never been pigeonholed in a particular part of HR either. I have been able to work across the whole lifecycle.
I consider myself lucky because I get to use my personality to do my job.
What is it about HR that gives you the most satisfaction or that you are proudest of?
Without a doubt, it is the people and getting to interact with them. I suppose it’s about the variety in terms of the types of people and the myriad of reasons why you are dealing with them.
I see part of my role is to assist in difficult situations, helping to resolve them as best we can. I feel energised by that. It might be a difficult conversation, but there is huge satisfaction in getting the best resolution. I am naturally an empathetic person, and that really helps.
People never cease to amaze me, and I love the variety. Sometimes the job can be really analytical, where I’m up to my neck in spreadsheets and pivot tables, trying to make sense of data from numerous sources and putting it to use. I think it is fair to say I have a job that is never repetitive!
What was your first day working at SL Controls like?
I joined on 4 January 2020, so it was a new job in a new year. It was the first Monday after Christmas and, to be honest, I was thinking I should have taken another week! I was also feeling massively sorry for Norma who was doing my induction! It was her first day back after Christmas, too, and she was stuck doing an induction with her new manager – a new manager she had not met while having to do the induction remotely.
Norma was super professional, though, and didn’t complain once. What I learned was that onboarding virtually is not as strange as you might think. It is amazing how we have all adapted ourselves and our processes to the virtual world, to ensure things have continued to run smoothly.
It set the trend as most of the job so far has been virtual with everything going on with Covid-19. I don’t think the fact I’ve only met 10-15 people in person has hindered anything. With the reality of remote working, I knew I was coming into something new, and not only needed to adapt, but also reap the benefits of working virtually.
Is there anything about SL Controls that makes it stand out from working at other companies?
From an HR perspective, the fact you can start, integrate, and onboard remotely – and do it successfully – makes SL Controls stand out. I don’t think that would be possible in every company.
In fact, SL Control’s ability to adapt to the pandemic and full remote working also makes the company stand out.
More personally, I was attracted to the fact that not only was it Irish owned, but that it was at the cutting edge of its industry. I’ve always worked for multinationals, but the agile environment at SL Controls has meant that everything can be more nimble – decision-making is much quicker. There is a very flat structure that is not hierarchical, with founders who worked up from the bottom. They are all points of difference that are important to me.
What advice would you give to people interested in joining SL Controls?
Send in an application! We are growing, so we have some fantastic opportunities. Then when you join, get involved. Go to the virtual canteens. Reach out and meet people, even if it’s virtually. Everyone in the company is open and approachable, so you’ll never get knocked back. Work closely with your manager, too, and think about your role and how you want to progress your career.