On 1st February, Benefex will be hosting its twice-annual Client Forum, The Employee Experience Hackathon. This year, we’re thrilled to welcome back Jackie Buttery, who will be offering her advice on recruitment and onboarding in 2018.

A former client of Benefex, Jackie now runs her own independent consultancy firm, Jackie Buttery Insights Ltd. Using 15 years of strategic and operational experience in employee benefits, she delivers operational expertise to client organisations across a broad spectrum of sectors. She’s also a Fellow of CIPD, and founding member of the REBA Global organisation. We can’t wait to see what she has to say at our Forum!

But first, here’s a little insight into Jackie herself…

Jackie! How has it been making the leap from Global Head of Reward and Benefits at Herbert Smith Freehills, to an independent HR expert and consultant? What challenges did you come across when setting up your consultancy?

I had been contemplating self employment for some time, attracted by the variety it could offer, the opportunity to be involved in my own business development, and to stretch myself. When I did take the plunge it was actually through a sudden change in family circumstance and an inability to travel long haul in my job rather than because I’d already chosen an actual date to go for it. Having done some homework into self employment already though I decided to go for it!  

I’ve had an exhilarating 2017. I’ve been really lucky to work with start ups and large corporations alike; to touch Reward and Benefits, to consider a client’s strategic aims and to look with detached eyes at changes they might want to make. 

When I first stepped into self employment, the very first challenge I encountered was sorting out my own IT. You are so cosseted inside large organisations with everything on tap, so when you set up on your own, you suddenly realise you have to take ownership for these types of things, and I worried initially about making the wrong choices. Beyond that, my ongoing challenge has been managing my time. Self employment hasn’t meant less work for me. It’s often the case that clients want to book me at the same time and assume I’m sitting at home waiting for their call. Working out solutions for that can be difficult so it has involved working the odd weekend or two! 

The biggest learning for me has been to expect the unexpected. Work comes along out of the blue that you haven’t been planning for, and equally ‘easy wins’ are sometimes not quite as easy after all. 

What was it that made you want to get into HR in the first place? What advice would you give to someone considering self-employment and setting up their own agency?

I did a languages degree. As I was finishing university I went for a number of general management graduate training programmes. I repeatedly heard feedback that I was destined for a career in HR. My mum had said the same years earlier, but had described it as sorting out payroll and Christmas parties! When I looked into the profession properly the job descriptions struck a chord. I thought I could make a difference, improve the experience at work and have natural empathy in those situations that needed it. Over the years, I’ve done graduate and lateral recruitment, L&D, employee relations and generalist HR, but my love is Reward and Benefits. I love the mix of people and numbers, and an element of sales for good measure! 

Advice for those contemplating self employment? Use your network, take recruiters' “advice” with a pinch of salt, trust the value you deliver, and get cracking organising a bank account two months before you start! It sounds nuts when you can walk into the high street with £1 and open a personal account but business banking is different. People did warn me but I didn’t quite believe them! 

Are there any challenges you faced when handling Reward and Benefits specific to the law industry?

The legal industry offers some fantastic opportunities. It sometimes suffers from having a poor reputation as a sector to work in, but it’s fascinating. You get a great mix of people, huge intellect from the leadership, and proper budgets usually to use to great effect. The ongoing challenge is one of influence, so not too different to elsewhere, but that becomes more complex as leaders move in and out on rotation. The lawyers are cash-rich but time-starved, so getting their attention and winning hearts and minds is not always easy. The other challenge is that the pace of decision making can never be assumed. Some decisions you might perceive as straightforward take years whilst in other instances there’s an expectation to deliver something complex at lightning speed. It adds to the fun! 

Could you give us a sneak preview of what you’re going to be talking about at the Forum?

In my mind the employee experience starts with the recruitment experience but in reality how connected are we with that? 

In recent years I’ve been a recruiter, candidate, perm hire, FTC and external consultant so I’ve experienced the process first hand. I will share my experiences with the group and will explore collaborations we have as Reward professionals and the crucial role we play in delivery of the recruitment experience.


Jackie will be talking to us all about Reward & Benefits and the recruitment experience at next week's Employee Experience Hackathon. You can find out more about Jackie, and the wonderful work she does here!