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  • Role: HR Adviser

Rebecca Harris

I have very recently taken up a HR Advisor role in British Gas’ Central Functions team, supporting our Finance, Central HR, Engineering Academy’s, Legal and Regulatory teams. Having an extremely diverse population means no two days are ever the same for me. One day I can be working on an employee relations issue and then next day I can be looking at how we can improve the engagement levels of our finance population or what strategies we need to deploy in order to meet our peoples development needs.

When I started the Centrica graduate scheme I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and was keen to get experience in lots of different areas. My first graduate position was in our Edinburgh call centre managing a team of 12 new call centre agents. My time in the call centre was my biggest learning curve but I believe the experience of managing a team has made me a better HR person, allowing me to relate much better to many of my current key stakeholders.

From the call centre I moved down to British Gas’ head office in Staines to work in our Corporate Responsibility team. My role here was to set up British Gas’ charity of the year and build relationships with employees and the Make-a-Wish Foundation. It was after this role I made the decision to move into HR.

My first HR experience was as a generalist working with British Gas’ service and repair engineers. My region covered London and the South East so I was forever circling the M25. It was a great opportunity to get hands on HR experience, this ranged from trade union liaison meetings to driving an employee engagement programme that would support the cultural changes taking place.

Before embarking on my current role, I made the move into a more specialist area of HR and took a position in Centrica’s Corporate Centre as a Talent and Development Manager. My main area of focus was shaping the leadership behaviours framework for the Centrica Group and how development, performance and talent strategies were going to underpin this. Working in our Corporate Centre was a great way for me to gain exposure to many of our senior leaders and build a deeper understanding of our business strategy.

Why I chose HR

Half way through the graduate scheme we were asked to transfer from general management to a specific area. I was deliberating between Marketing and HR for quite some time but after speaking to a number of people across our business about what HR involved I went with my gut feeling and took the plunge.

Understanding what HR involves

Prior to entering the working world, HR was always a bit of an unknown entity to me. I knew it was people orientated and had an employee relations focus but that was about it. I would never have guess how strategic and commercial HR can be and the difference a good HR function can have on the culture and operational efficiency of an organisation.

Career highlights

Centrica’s unique business model means that we have a diverse spectrum of people working for us, many of whom I get the privilege of working with. Since working for the company I’ve had the opportunity to visit Poland to understand how our People Services team works and have completed a charity trek in Malawi as part of the Centrica Women’s Network. Broadening my understanding of different cultural working practices is something that is definitely in my Personal Development Plan (PDP).

Future ambitions

I am still at the start of my career so for the next few years my focus is really on getting a breadth of experiences and understanding the fundamentals of HR, both form a generalist and specialist perspective. Long term, I would love to take on a HR leadership role that put me at the heart of driving a great people strategy, which inspires creativity and really allows people to make a difference.

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