Bronte W.

Workforce Planning Lead and HR Business Partner for the 2022 Commonwealth Games
Happy to mentor
Happy to be contacted

About me

Bronte W.
Management
Accounting, Business Finance and Management
Undergraduate
Constantine
2018
United Kingdom

My employment

Workforce Planning Lead and HR Business Partner for the 2022 Commonwealth Games
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
United Kingdom
Government and civil service
Large business (250+ employees)
2021

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A day in the life of a Workforce Planning Lead and HR Business Partner for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in the United Kingdom

I work in Westminster in London (the novelty hasn't worn off yet, and I don't think it ever will!) at the Ministry of Justice HQ.

Briefly describe the organisation you work for

I am a Civil Servant and alumni of the HR Fast Stream Graduate programme (graduating September 2021). I am undertaking my first leadership role as Workforce Planning Lead and HR Business Partner for the 2022 Commonwealth Games at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

During the HR Fast Stream programme I undertook two placements - one as a HR Business Partner at HM Courts and Tribunals Service, an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice and my second at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) as a HR Policy Specialist.

What do you do?

I work as part of the Commonwealth Games Delivery Unit which is managing the Government aspects of the Games in Birmingham next year. We work closely with numerous partner organisations to ensure successful delivery.

Specifically, I am responsible for planning our workforce structures in the run up to and during the Games. I will be supporting our staff with the transition to 'Games time' roles including developing the roles they will undertake, the support available to them, the training they require and managing the closure of the unit following the Games.

I am also responsible for implementing core strategic HR priorities such as succession and development planning for the unit as well as ensuring effective people management practices and implementation of HR projects in all areas including diversity and inclusion, capability, talent and performance, resourcing, employment relations, pay and reward and organisation design. I also support the unit on day-to-day people management issues and concerns.

Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?

During University I undertook two internships, one in Accounting with Enterprise Rent-A-Car and one in HR with The Royal Bank of Scotland. Both provided great experience to help me understand what I wanted to do, with the transition to HR being realised once I became a Campus Brand Manager for Enterprise and was involved in assessment centres and recruitment of interns. Having experienced an insight into the private sector a friend who completed an internship with the Government Economic Service recommended the Civil Service, where I successfully applied for the HR Fast Stream Graduate Programme.

During this programme I completed two very different placements which provided insight into the different types of roles that can be held within HR. I also completed my Level 7 CIPD qualification alongside working full-time which up-skilled me in HR theory and how to apply this in practice. I always knew I had a specific interest in resourcing and workforce planning and so this role seemed like a perfect next step in an incredibly interesting operational context.

Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?

Whilst at University I had never considered the Civil Service and my ambition was to work for large private corporations such as Facebook, Google, the big four or large banks. The insight from my internships helped me to understand my own values and ambitions, how I wanted to make a difference and the value that can be added through a career in the Civil Service. A friend recommended them to me after a good internship experience and the rest is history!

Describe your most memorable day at work

One day an individual called me very distressed and looking for advice and guidance, they were not from my immediate business areas but I listened to them regardless. They were on long-term sickness measures and were facing potential dismissal through medical inefficiency. The individual is disabled and suffered from anxiety and depression, they loved working for HMCTS and were very concerned as to what could happen if they were dismissed. What I thought would be a quick call for advice, as is common in a HR Business Partner role, quickly turned into a 40-minute conversation whereby the individual expressed suicidal thoughts and was unsure where to turn to. I simply had a conversation with the individual, provided signposts to guidance and support available such as The Samaritans and was a listening ear. By the end of the conversation the individual had moved from crying to laughing with me, telling me about their evening plans and thanking me for my support. Following the call I cried within the open plan office but the day resonates with me and always reminds me that helping people such as that individual is the reason I work in HR.

Are there any challenges associated with your job?

Many - HR is focused on human behaviour and comes with new challenges every day as you can never be certain how people are going to react to new ideas, proposals or issues. Throughout my roles so far I have had to quickly up-skill in conflict management, negotiation and influencing practices to ensure I achieve my outcomes in a smooth manner, and it hasn't always gone well!

Government and the Civil Service is equally challenging, and with Brexit and COVID-19 it has been an incredibly busy, but incredibly interesting time whilst I have been in post. Having to work to close budgets, and ensure public services are maintained, managed and utilised appropriately will remain a challenge throughout my entire Civil Service career.

What’s your work environment and culture like?

I work in a hybrid fashion as is now common across the Civil Service. 1-2 days a week I will work from the office in Westminster in London (the novelty hasn't worn off yet, and I don't think it ever will!). The other 2-3 days I will work from home, where the Civil Service has provided fantastic provisions to ensure home working is in a comfortable environment with suitable IT.

The Civil Service highly value work-life balance and employee support with policies such as flexi-time, volunteering leave and family-friendly policies which management ensure are utilised even in incredibly busy times.

What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?

During University I was involved in the Business, Accounting and Management Society (BAMSoc) for which I held the positions of Vice-President and President. I applied and came Top 10 in the Target Jobs Management Undergraduate of the Year Awards in 2016 and achieved the York Award and York Award Gold for recognition of my employability activities. In my first year I became a course representative for the Management school, becoming department representative in my second year and finally faculty representative for the social sciences in my final year. I was a tutor, supporting around 70 first year students in Quantitative Methods modules. I was also Assistant Media Director for the York Finance Conference 3 years in a row, a second/third year contact to incoming first year students and even participated in a radio show for some time!

Throughout these experiences I developed numerous transferable skills including communications, analysis, innovation, leadership and flexibility skills which I have been able to apply strongly into my position with HMCTS.

What would you like to do next with your career?

My ultimate goal is to become a Senior Civil Servant within the next 5-10 years. I am currently enjoying my first leadership role, but once the Commonwealth Games is over next year I will need to consider my next move. I fully expect that this will still be within the Civil Service, and I will be seeking roles that further develop my skill-set and knowledge in a new area of HR. I am also open to more generalist operational roles and if something that interest me comes up, I will give anything a go!

What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?

You're going into an incredibly tough market, made even tougher by the current situation, really think about why you want to work in a particular sector, for a particular organisation or in a particular role as interest is the key to ensuring you will enjoy and have a successful career. Do lots of research into different organisations and different graduate schemes and don't apply to programmes for the sake of it, make sure it is something you really want!

If you're unsure what you want to do, then don't be afraid to try anything, sometimes the best way to approach life is by crossing things off the big list of options. Consider where you want to be based and ensure you get some support if you are moving away from family and friends. Don't be sucked into the race, life is not a race and take everything at your comfortable pace, you don't have to be working for the biggest corporation, have the fanciest job title or be progressing the quickest - as long as you are enjoying what you are doing and are happy that's more than you could ask for.

What topics from students are you happy to answer questions on?

Civil Service, Fast Stream, Human Resources, CIPD, Graduate Life, Moving to London, Anything!

Next steps...

If you like the look of Bronte’s profile, the next steps are down to you! You can send Bronte a message to find out more about their career journey. If you feel you would benefit from more in-depth conversations, ask Bronte to be your mentor.

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