Amanda Connolly is a Senior People Specialist based in London, UK. She has worked in HR/People for over 20 years in the UK, Spain, New Zealand and the US, predominantly with Global SMEs. Her passion is to help tech start and scale ups introduce a People function to their business.
She focuses primarily on future proofing organisations through; digitising their People function, Management Coaching of all managers and establishing policies and processes with a focus on transparency, diversity and wellbeing.
You can connect with Amanda via LinkedIn.
What’s the story of your career so far?
My first role was a maternity cover for a website creator and I really enjoyed going into an organisation and having the opportunity of making an impact (I’ll always believe that good People Management is a win/win/win for the employee/manager and bottom line!). I enjoyed that contract so much that I spent most of my 20s and early 30s undertaking Fixed Term Contracts. I’ve always been very delivery focused and enjoyed the high expectations that folks seem to have of an FTC. During my late 30s, I took a bit of a life detour and trained to become a single Foster Carer whilst working part time in HR. After my child graduated, I returned to “just” People/HR full time (Hello evenings and weekends!). I’ve worked in a vast array of different industries, gradually moving towards more technical environments, from Trading Platforms and Software Houses to Digital, Ecom and now FinTech. I do love a bit of tech with People, be it implementing an eHR system, delivering online training modules or data reporting.
What do you love most about what you do?
Seeing the effectiveness that management coaching achieves not just for the team, but the manager and their peers – it never gets boring. I’m very results orientated; I want to see that I’ve made an impact on the team and it’s the basic things that really make a big difference; everyone having a Job Description, regular chats to your boss, documented policies, good recruitment and onboarding, performance management, great communication – these are the foundations for a high performing team. I’m proud to say I’ve helped achieve that and it makes me feel great! I’m also really keen on addressing the issues we have in the workplace with Diversity (shout out to “Coding Black Females” here). I never get bored, the People function is a reflection of society and wow, what a time we are living in right now!
What’s the most important lesson you learned in 2020 amidst all the Covid-19 disruption?
Moving away from the “bums on seats” mentality has resulted in an up to 40% increase in productivity for some online businesses and a focus on mental health. This unexpected result has opened our eyes to what can be achieved if we adapt. Wellbeing, real estate, efficiency improvements; we are all learning and adapting as we go. I doubt we’ll ever go back to 100% office working – we’ve learnt too many lessons. If our staff aren’t spending 2 hours on a train or in a car each day, they are more likely to produce great results. I’ve always had a pragmatic mindset, and the biggest lesson I’ve learnt from 2020, is that none of us can stand still or take what we have for granted, we need to constantly adapt to survive and ultimately thrive.
As far as you can predict, what’s on the cards this year for you and your business?
As a career contractor, the pandemic (and maybe my age!) has had an impact on my desire for a more stable role. I now want to grow with a business and ensure that the impact I have is long term. I’m sure my coaching qualification will be extremely useful in supporting the management population deal with remote workers. I think it would be imprudent to set any definite culture changes right now, we still don’t know what the rest of 2021 holds for us! I suspect the demand from industry will continue to be Hybrid working and recruitment, diversity, mental health and employee wellbeing.
If you could go back and do it all over again, would you choose a different career path and why?
Absolutely not! I love what I do, I’m passionate about it, even after 22 years. No two people are the same, which means no two days are the same for me. I’ve been able to use my People experience to work across the globe and in so many different industries. I’ve also used my skills outside of work – I have supported young offenders, worked with Crisis At Christmas for over 20 years, on their Training Committee and as an Assistant Shift Leader in a centre, managing over 130 volunteers. I’ve also been the Chief Cat Wrangler for an Arts Festival (BurningNest) and helped establish the Mutual Aid group for my area at the start of the pandemic; shopping and collecting for those that are isolated. We also established a Hot Food delivery system and a Baby Bank, all of which continue to be used by those more vulnerable. I’ve used the skills that I’ve learnt in my career to help improve the projects I’m passionate about, outside of work.