Celebrating International Women’s Day
We also speak to Julie Nicholds, Operations Director of HR Advise Me. Julie has shared the story of her career so far, and the advice that has helped her along the way.
Tell us a bit more about your career and your role at Loch Associates Group
I founded the business back in 2007, as I saw the opportunity to support SMEs with their ad hoc employment law and HR advice. As the business developed, I realised there were further opportunities to provide similar expertise on issues such as wellbeing, mediation and health and safety. From a single office in Tunbridge Wells, we now also have offices in Brighton and London, and remain focused on providing clients with the services they need to manage their people effectively. Alongside running the business on a day-to-day basis, I am also a practising Employment Lawyer with an active caseload.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Helping to find solutions to problems and innovating new solutions as a result. When a client has a problem or knows what they want to achieve, I enjoy finding solutions for them. I also like to identify ways to avoid problems arising in the first place – many of our services have been created in this way, like our HR Medical Specialists. I’m a very results driven person, so actively making things happen and solving problems is a bit motivation.
What was your biggest break?
Employing some fantastic people who have helped us to develop the various businesses. Building a business is hard work and surrounding yourself with positive and talented colleagues is the only way to grow. I’ve been fortunate to work with a team that has been as dedicated to the business as I am.
How do you manage the work/life balance? What interests do you have outside of work?
Family and friends play a big part in helping me achieve work/life balance, as does my Spanish Water Dog, Ellie. Fitness also plays an important part so I spend time walking Ellie, or often she joins me when i go out running. I also work out in the gym a few times a week. I find that exercise gives me the break from work that I need to be able to return energised and refreshed for another day.
What are your personal and business ambitions?
We only have one life so being happy and having fun is something I aim for personally. From a business perspective, I have achieved the ambition of working with a team of people I like, and I want to continue to expand and grow the business so we can all benefit in the future form what we invest in together in the business now – and have some fun along the way too!
What advice would you give to young women starting out in the world of work?
Be clear on what your goals are and be determined to achieve them. If you’re setting up your own business, then enthusiasm is important too, as starting out on your own can be both a financial and a physical drain in the early years. But as your business grows and you start seeing success, the rewards from running your own business should hopefully make all the effort worthwhile!
What advice have you been given that has stuck with you throughout your career so far?
Recognising your weaknesses is not a failing, but a strength.
This blog post is based on an article first produced in Platinum Business Magazine.
Tell us about your background and how you came to Operations Director for HR Advise Me.
When I was thinking about what I wanted to do, I didn’t have a role model so I had to find my own way and make my own decisions. After getting good A Level results, I decided to go to University. The job market in the mid-80s wasn’t great, so I chose a law degree to make sure I had the best chance of getting a job when I graduated.
My first job after university was with Prudential Assurance on their HR graduate programme where I had the opportunity to work across various business units and areas of HR. I left there after a number of years to work for myself after the birth of my third child and ran a small scale consulting business until I responded to an article in the local paper by Pam Loch to join the team at HR Advise Me. Within six months I was working for the business and the rest is history!
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I work with many clients and a variety of industries which I love. I also enjoy the challenges of being involved in the strategic decisions about what we do next as a businesses.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced during your career, and how did you overcome it?
I always had a ‘grand plan’ about where I would be and what I would be doing at certain points in my life. One of the biggest challenges I faced was the decision to return to employment after several years working for myself two years earlier than my plan suggested. However, the opportunity to join HR Advise Me was too good to pass up so I had to find the confidence to go ‘off-plan’ and make the jump, otherwise it would have always been the job that got away!
How do you manage work/life balance?
I have always adopted a flexible working pattern since I had my three children – usually working 3 or 4 days a week. This helped me to be there after school and go to school events as well as use the day to catch up. It is always a challenge but I think when you have a lot to fit in to your week, you have to be organised. It’s also important to me that my children consider it normal to have a working Mum.
What one bit of advice have you been given that has stuck with you through your career?
Be honest and pleasant to people you work with – you spend a lot of time with them!
What advice would you give young women at the start of their career?
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want – you’ll never know what the answer will be if you don’t ask.