Clair Gilbert – HR Consultant, vivoHR.
We thought it would be interesting to share with you a little bit about the background to the people that work at vivoHR. We started with Rachel and now talk to Clair who joined us in January 2018.
Have you always worked in HR Clair?
Not at all. At the age of 14 I started out washing up dishes and waiting on in a local pub where my passion for hospitality began and ever since then I been passionate about delivering good service to people; no matter whether it is HR or washing up!
Early on in my career I worked in hotels and contract catering for high profile events. I thrived on the adrenaline of the buzz of a fast paced environment. I have also worked BOH and even did a stint in a kitchen in a French Chateau with a completely male dominated personnel, that was a real eye opener at the age of 19!
My work for the onboard services team at Eurostar was great, I was responsible for identifying improvements as a Manager and Trainer. I designed and delivered training courses around people management, stress management, customer service, appraisal skills to name but a few that contributed to an improved passenger experience.
Through my experience I now have a real appreciation of what is takes to make a place run well. Hospitality and catering is not for the feint-hearted. The hours are long, anti-social and the pressure is high. It’s little wonder that conflict between people in not uncommon. The environment gives rise to people behaving irrationally or out of character. That understanding certainly helps now I’m on the HR side advising catering and hospitality clients as I get it as I have been there!
How did you get into HR?
If I’m honest, more by accident than design. I had a part-time job working in the in-house cafe of a large Surrey organisation while raising my young family. It was one day week and I loved it. It was just what I needed at that time. The cafe owner was approached by a large department store group who were looking for someone to run their in-store cafes at various South East locations. The owner asked if I would like to work as his number 2 and I accepted. I was in at the deep end if you like, looking after recruitment, training and contracts.
I recruited the store cafe managers, including in Croydon, where the store went onto win the award for best in store café in the UK. While I had no formal HR qualifications at the time, the owner got some specialist HR help to assist me, particularly in relation to HR processes and policies. That specialist advice happened to come from Sam at vivoHR, who we were a retained client for 3 months to help me. I was a pretty quick learner!
Hospitality and Catering Recruitment
Next I was head-hunted into an HR role, for a recruitment company finding candidates for the catering and hospitality sector. I implemented all of the necessary HR processes, as there were none at the time. During my time, and off my own back, I studied for the CIPD qualification on a part time basis for 12 months in 2015. After 2 years, I had managed myself out of that job. The processes I had put in place could now be undertaken buy an office manager rather than by an HR professional.
Full circle and back to vivoHR
Towards the end of 2017 a neighbour approached me enquiring about needing HR support. I immediately thought of Sam and we got in touch again after nearly 8 years and the rest is history as here I am working as part of the amazing vivoHR team!