Five minutes with… Angela Atkins

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Angela Atkins is co-owner and general manager of Elephant Training & HR. She also works as an HR Consultant as well as designing and facilitating training for the company. The published author has worked in HR for more than 16 years in a variety of sectors.

How would you sum up HR professionals in three words?

Trying under fire (not sure it’s an expression – but it is now!). In many companies HR seems to be under-resourced yet expected to deliver – not to mention the ongoing ‘what does HR do?’ debate.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

“It’s not what you start that matters, but what you finish”. Actually, I saw that on the back of a furniture truck. It really resonated with me because I tend to love to start things but have to concentrate and use discipline to get things finished.

What are some of the biggest challenges HR deals with?

Having to restructure or dismiss people when it’s the manager who is in the wrong job. Trying to challenge CEOs or execs on people-related decisions without having any real power to stop bad calls. Keeping up with legislation and case law changes. Trying to deliver real value without being given the resources to do so (my first HR manager job was me supporting 600 employees – I couldn’t do anything proactive).

How do you see the role of HR changing in the future?

There will be a better understanding that operational HR is needed, but is completely different from HR leadership which will come into its own as more of a business coach.

What’s your favoured style of coffee?

I don’t drink coffee – does tea count?

If you could invite three people to dinner, dead or alive, and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?

Donna Tartt (my favourite author), Winston Churchill (who knew how to lunch) and Elizabeth I (would love to hear her views on life!). I’m not sure how well they’d mix…..

Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t in HR, I would be… a full-time writer instead of trying to fit it in around my Elephant work!

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