|Accounting, Business Finance and Management|
|Human Resources Business Partner - Civil Service HR Fast Stream|
|Civil Service HR Fast Stream - HM Courts and Tribunals Service|
|Government and civil service|
|Large business (250+ employees)|
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A day in the life of a Human Resources Business Partner - Civil Service HR Fast Stream 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 a member of the HR Fast Stream Graduate Programme. I am currently in my (extended) first 18 month placement with HM Courts and Tribunals Service, an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice. I will soon be rotating to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in July.
What do you do?
I work mostly with Directors and Deputy Directors in two key business areas, Property and Communications, to implement core strategic HR priorities such as strategic workforce planning, succession and development planning 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 directorates and wider business 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 which I am now 19 months into. I am undertaking my Level 7 CIPD qualification alongside working full-time.
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 my 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 18 month placement I have had to quickly upskill 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 Westminster in London (the novelty hasn't worn off yet, and I don't think it ever will!) at the Ministry of Justice HQ. The Civil Service are incredibly open to flexible working practices so I often work from home 1-2 days per week and they highly value work-life balance with policies such as flexi-time, volunteering leave and privilege days which management ensure are utilised even in incredibly busy times such as now!
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?
In around 8 weeks I will rotate on my Fast Stream Programme to DEFRA to take up a role as a HR Policy Specialist working on conduct, grievance, probation and whistleblowing policies for a further 18 (15 due to extension) months. Following this I aim to be successful in graduating from the programme and obtaining my first leadership role with the Civil Service.
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!
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.