Rachel Goodman, HR Adviser at vivoHR

The story of Rachel’s career is a positive and inspiring one for the many people who don’t have, or never have had a career plan. She has shown how it is possible to have a rewarding career in HR without following a conventional path. She is someone with a flair for creativity who is very natural with people. What you see is what you get with Rachel – she seems well suited to HR and vivoHR seems a perfect working environment.

Talking to her, Rachel’s ideal job would be giving guided tours around Hogwarts or leading searches for magic folk living at the bottom of the garden. But this lover of fairies and fantasy is also practical and hard working. She has learnt how her creativity and HR knowledge can be bought together to benefit vivoHR, and this is the story of her working life in her words.

“University never quite happened for me, despite being offered a place on a Textile and Carpet Design course. I don’t regret not going, and it meant that my first ‘real’ job was as a sales and order processing assistant in a photocopy shop in Yateley. It’s not there anymore, but it was my first taste of business having come from an arts and creative background.

When I nailed my dream job, all was not as it seemed.

From there I moved to what I thought was my dream job. However, it only lasted 4 weeks! I’d always wanted to work at Heathrow Airport. I think it was the excitement of so many people jetting off to far-away places, tapping into the free spirit in me! However, it was a commission-based role, selling trinkets to tourists and business travellers. It provided my first taste of workplace conflict with self-centred colleagues thinking about and working only for themselves. Despite meeting Mick Hucknall and Joan Collins in my first month, I couldn’t wait to get out!

I’ve never really had a career plan; I’ve always been comfortable not knowing what the future holds. My next role was far more enjoyable, and it lasted four years. I was at the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) at Farnborough Airport, providing first line IT support for DERA sites across the UK.

I co-ordinated parts and resources and looked after a team of 15 engineers. We were a young team and I was ‘one of the boys’. The banter was great, although looking back on it, with my HR hat on, some of the comments might land you in hot water today! I was sad when the contract went to another supplier and it was time to move on. But I don’t miss the bi-annual Air show when jets taking off would shake our office to its core foundations!

A chance playground conversation would bring me to vivoHR

I’ve learnt from every job that I have been in, and my next one was a good example. It was like DERA – a procurement, admin and resourcing role. I was there 12 years all told. The business was taken over at least twice and it became a little more corporate each time. I ended up working for BT. The fun of working slowly disappeared, teams were ever-changing and relationships became more impersonal. I had both of my children while working there, so I was grateful to be able to take about a year’s Maternity Leave for both Teddy and Archie. But when I returned to work a second time, I was so bored and kept thinking, I’d much rather be at home with the kids. So when I became eligible for the Paid Leaver Scheme in February 2012, I jumped at the chance. I really enjoyed that summer, messing about with the family and enjoying the Olympics. But as nursery and school beckoned in the Autumn, I was ready to return to work and a chance conversation in the playground would bring me to vivoHR.

Sam at vivoHR was looking for an Admin Assistant for 10 hours a week. I recall the interview clearly, or to be more precise a good ‘gas-bag’ over a cup of tea in her garden, getting to know each other! I remember at the time thinking how comfortable I felt. It was such a refreshing change from the role I had most recently left.

For two days a week for two years, I created systems and filing, updated a raft of HR documents – reading them all and creating a consistent presentation style. Looking back, I didn’t quite realise how much HR knowledge I was taking on board. The two years went in the blink of an eye and it looked like I would need to leave as I wanted to up my hours. Sam knew about this, but then opportunities arose for me to be seconded to vivoHR clients’ businesses. First to a care company and then to KBO Fire & Security. KBO were going through ISO and needed admin support for this as well as HR help. The role expanded to 3 days a week with HR being 50% of my time. I was reviewing and drafting HR policies, managing the appraisals process, as well as leading the employee engagement programme.

I was still employed by vivoHR and I enrolled in an apprentice scheme that enabled me to achieve Level 3 Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Certificate and that has developed my all-round HR skills and confidence. I intend to take the Level 5 Certificate soon which will develop my skills further.

Since the turn of the year I’ve been full-time at vivoHR

Since the start of 2019, I’ve returned from KBO and I am full-time at vivoHR and taking on more work as we continue to grow. I’m grateful for that chance discussion in the school playground, but also pleased for myself that I have been able to make so much of it. I’m thankful to my family and to Sam and Clair for their belief and encouragement. It’s not quite a fairy story but it does show that dreamers, not just planners can be successful too!

Rachel Goodman was talking to Nick Shrimpton

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