Meet the team: Q&A with Kathryn Kendall, CPO
Kathryn joined Benefex in 2014 and has made some fantastic improvements across the entire business since. We caught up with her to find out more:
What did you do before you joined Benefex?
I went to drama school and I was a professional actor and singer. Following that, I decided I wanted to do something new and different and found myself working in HR. My last role before Benefex was at the FMCG company Candyking, it has a similar company culture to Benefex and I have been very fortunate in both roles to genuinely love getting up for work every day. Life is too short to spend it dreading Monday mornings!
What made you want to work at Benefex?
I’d actually been a Benefex client through my role at Candyking. I was looking for a third party to provide expert broking support to us, and having met with some of the Benefex team and found out a little more about how they like to work and what they could offer, there was no question about signing them up as our preferred supplier. Benefex provided broking services to Candyking for over 5 years during my tenure, and continues to do so to this day. Whilst I wasn’t actively looking for a job at the time, I knew from the strong cultural alignment that Benefex was somewhere I really wanted to work.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Organised chaos! No two days are the same, but typically I’ll start and finish my day with emails and documentation. The bulk of the day is then spent with employees and managers in a variety of capacities providing support wherever it’s needed – I’m very rarely at my desk!
What’s your favourite thing about working in HR?
My favourite thing about working in HR is how close you can get to the business as a whole. I’m fascinated with how businesses operate and how an engaged and skilled workforce can make such a difference to the results which are delivered.
What’s your favourite thing about working at Benefex?
The fake grass in reception! No, really it’s the pace at which we are moving and the number of opportunities I see ahead. When you combine this with the incredibly engaged group of people I am lucky enough to work alongside here, you can see why it’s a pretty exciting place to be.
What does your role entail?
A bit of everything, my role is hands-on and includes all elements of operational HR, be it recruitment, training, performance management, line manager guidance, or just about anything else! I balance this alongside the more strategic aspects of the role, developing and delivering our HR strategy and acting as a member of the senior management team. Perhaps most importantly, I see my role as having a key responsibility for driving employee engagement and maximising what both employees and the organisation can get from the Benefex experience.
Which element of your role as HR Director is most important to you?
I have great job satisfaction. For me personally it’s important to be able to input at the highest level, not just on HR matters but also more holistically when it comes to how we manage and develop the overall business.
In your opinion, how important is it for HR professionals to have input at board level?
No aspect of any business is delivered without people: an organisation’s performance, growth and future outcome will be dictated by your people and their belief and engagement in what you do. In my view therefore it’s absolutely key to have someone providing input at a board level whose primary focus is that people resource.
What advice would you give to someone who is starting out their career in HR?
Don’t panic if the first job you get isn’t in HR. Regardless of your role, you’ll be operating alongside people and therefore you’ll be carrying out elements of an HR role without even realising it. Go and find a great business and learn about it: a good HR professional should know their business inside out. I feel strongly that we all have a responsibility to take ownership of our learning and development. Take the first steps in building up your own CPD (Continuous Professional Development) record and use this to demonstrate to prospective employers the skills you’ve already learnt which can add value within their HR department. Most importantly, I think it’s important to not simply settle for the status quo. Take risks, try something new and accept challenges, even if they take you outside of your comfort zone and into unchartered territory. Without having done all of that I wouldn’t be in the position I am now… so I can’t tell you how grateful I am that I did!
Would you like to join the team at Benefex? Take a look at the available positions on our careers page.