Tell us about your current role as Head of HR at boohoo.com.
My role involves regular contact with the senior management team in order to make sure that we have the right people policies and strategies in place for the business. I also manage a team of four people that look after all of our employees and work to support the business by bringing in the right people with the right skills and fit for our business. Employee engagement is our main focus as it is important that we retain our fabulous team and that they really enjoy what they do. Boohoo has a fun culture which makes us a really social company and this is something we strive to maintain.
What is the setup of your HR department?
We are a small but growing team made up of a HR Manager, two HR Coordinators (one for head office and one for operations), four internal resources and one Learning and Development Manager. Being a smaller team gives us the advantage of being able to work close together easily, and as we grow we want to keep that close relationship between HR, Resourcing and Learning & Development.
How has HR contributed to boohoo’s success? Are there any particular policies or practices that have contributed to this?
I joined the company at an early stage and was the first person to be brought in to do HR which was very exciting. Recruitment was the first major aspect that I focused on as I wanted to not only bring in the best talent but also make sure we identified people who were right for the culture at boohoo. We’ve got pretty smart at spotting great people and this helps us to retain our teams. Retention is key to our growth so we really focus on it here at boohoo.
The employee benefit package was something that I also looked at so that we could sell ourselves against our competitors. We offer a range of benefits at different levels now including pension, health care, child care vouchers, a great employee discount, life assurance, bonus schemes, shares and lots of different activities like our monthly pizza and drinks. We also throw a great party!
How would you suggest someone sell their skills and expertise in their application for an HR role?
Relevancy is the most important point to keep in mind when you’re filling out any job application. It needs to be succinct and to the point so that employers can access all the important information they’re looking for easily. Start by doing some preparation, such as researching the company and role. Then move on to arranging the skills you have that are relevant to the job role in bullet points – this will help your prospective employer digest your skills easily.
When interviewing a candidate, what stands out for you the most? Can you offer any tips?
You need to have good examples of your knowledge and past experiences that you’ve listed in your application as an employer is likely to ask you questions about this. Demonstrate your expertise by explaining some real life examples and why they made a difference to the business you were in.
Conducting research into the company is really important as it shows that you have a real interest in working for them. I also like to get a feel for a candidate’s personality as it gives a good indication as to whether you will be a good fit for the working environment.
What is the best piece of advice you can give to someone looking to progress in the HR industry?
For an entrepreneurial business like boohoo, we really want individuals who understand the business and not just HR policies. It’s all about making a difference to business performance through doing the right things with your team and valuing people. There are other more corporate businesses where process and policy may be more highly valued. Understand the type of business that you are targeting and think about how to address those needs.