Thirty at Thirty – Stories to Celebrate Thirty Years of Vision Express – With Jo Cantrill
Jo began her journey with Vision Express 15 years ago as a recruitment officer. Whilst developing her own career, she’s seen her fair share of colleague progressions through the company as a HR Business Partner. Jo tells us about her role and what she thinks are important skills for any HR professional to have.
What does your role involve?
As a HR Business Partner, I work closely with a group of Regional Managers and stores, in particular identifying talent and future succession planning. I’m regularly out and about visiting stores getting to know our teams. Being in store enables us, as a HR function, to get quick resolution of employee concerns and identify any common themes so we can look to improve. Working side by side with the Ops teams enables us to ensure we are both aligned and that we are delivering on our HR agenda. There’s a lot of variety in this role which is great.
What do you enjoy the most about your role?
The people! I love speaking to colleagues and understanding what they want from their career. I get the opportunity to build relationships and see colleagues work hard and progress in their roles – it makes me proud to see people go through that journey and grow their confidence.
You began your career as a recruitment officer 15 years ago. What motivated you to progress within your role and stay with Vision Express?
I’ve had a steady progression through different roles and gained lots of experience along the way. I’ve been fortunate enough to work in a team with really supportive managers and we have a great working relationship. Everyone is open and honest and feels comfortable enough to challenge each other in a constructive way. The people I work with have played a major role in me staying with Vision Express. We all believe in the work we’re doing as a department and we work well together to make a difference.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
The only person that is going to stand in your way of achieving something is you. If you want to progress and develop within any career, you’ve got to take ownership of that. There are external factors that can help along the way but you’re almost in control of your own destiny.
What key skills are important for a HR professional to have?
In any HR role, you interact with lots of colleagues at different career levels, so you need to have good interpersonal skills. You need to be comfortable having open and honest conversations in a way that will engage people rather than discourage them. For me it’s about empowering colleagues to find the right solution with coaching and support, rather than telling people what to do.
Any advice for someone who is considering a career in HR?
The great thing about HR is the variety of things you can get involved with – it’s never boring! For someone just starting their career, a role such as a HR Administrator, is a good starting point. You’ll get a feel for the different elements that make a complete HR function, and from there you can decide if you would like to specialise in a particular area e.g. payroll, recruitment or you can continue down the general HR route and progress to a HR Advisor role. There’s a lot more to HR than most people think and it’s a very rewarding career!