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  • Role: HR Graduate Trainee
  • University: Leeds
  • Degree: BSc Psychology

Natalie Purves

Why did you choose to work in HR?

I decided to pursue a career in HR following my increased interest in this field during my time at university. In my degree, I had a particular interest in learning about behaviour, communication, motivation and group dynamics. I felt that a career in HR would give me the opportunity to put the theory that I had learnt at university into practice. This is something that I have found to be the case.

Why did you choose to work for Tata Steel?

I decided to apply to Tata Steel (formerly Corus), as it is a large and reputable company. I was impressed by the graduate scheme offered, including the opportunity to gain my Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) qualification. I was also attracted to the company’s desire to continue to improve and develop people, whilst also striving to be the best supplier to the best customer.

Did you attend pre-induction? Was this useful before you started your first day?

I found this event very beneficial as it gave me the opportunity to meet other new graduates, including some I would be working with upon starting. The pre-induction event also gave me the chance to develop my teambuilding, communication and networking skills. On the whole I found the event to be a fun and relaxed day and one that I strongly recommend to all new graduates.

What does your current role involve?

Since starting at Tata Steel I have had several different roles, which have helped me to gain a rounder picture of what HR entails. I am currently working as an HR Officer, focusing on the employee relations side of the business. The main part of my role concentrates on absence management, supporting line management, employee communications, conducting disciplinaries, trade union negotiations and dealing with employee queries.

Tell us something about your business unit location

I work at the Tata Steel site based in Corby in Northamptonshire. At my business unit there are approximately eight hundred employees. There are a number of graduates already based at Corby, who are always willing to offer advice and support. Although Corby isn’t well known for its nightlife, it is situated in the middle of several large towns including Leicester, Northampton and Peterborough, which are. Corby is also just a train ride away from London.

What training have you received since joining?

Since starting at Tata Steel I have received a large amount of training. I have completed training courses in interview and assessor training, so that I can assist the business with recruitment and selection. I have also completed a course on management, leadership and development, as well as shadowing various colleagues in different departments. I have also visited three of the sites in the Netherlands and also the steel-making site in Port Talbot – all of these enabled me to develop a wider view of Tata Steel beyond that of the Corby site.

I am currently completing a diploma in employment law, which provides me with an insight into the legal side of HR, which is a key aspect of my day to day activities. As well as this I am also currently completing a Masters in Human Resources Management, which will enable me to gain my Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) qualification and enable me to gain a greater understanding of the role of HR.

Please describe development opportunities you have had since joining Tata Steel

Tata Steel has given me the opportunity to work on several different projects and with a variety of different people, all of which have helped me develop my career in HR, something that is essential on a graduate scheme. I have had the opportunity to develop right from the beginning of my time at Tata Steel. One of the first occasions was a Graduate Corporate Induction, in which all the other new graduates starting at Tata Steel get together and are provided with an introduction to the company including information into the various sites and products made by Tata Steel. This was a great opportunity to meet new people, develop my networking skills and develop my knowledge about the company and of HR. I have also had the opportunity to develop my skills when I shadowed several colleagues, both within the HR function and elsewhere in the business unit. I found this opportunity a great way to see how others work and a way to learn new skills and develop my existing skills accordingly. I also found this a good way to ask advice and questions and learn what is expected of me in my role

What are your future career aspirations?

My current goal is to complete my Masters degree and gain my CIPD qualification. I also want to continue to learn and develop within my role as an HR Officer, gaining as much experience as I can. In the near distant future I will be looking at moving up the career ladder into a role as an HR Business Partner and ultimately taking a role as an HR Manager at a successful organisation.

What qualities do you need to succeed in HR?

In order to be successful in HR you must have good communication skills, time-management and high levels of drive and enthusiasm. A role in HR is often variable and demanding and therefore it is important that you are able to be flexible and can pick up new skills quickly. You should have a high attention to detail and a professional attitude towards work.

Any advice for someone wanting to start on an HR scheme?

You do not need a background in HR to apply for an HR graduate scheme. Just be enthusiastic and have a willingness to learn and take in new information. Form as many contacts as you can, not only with those in your own business unit but also at other sites within the business. Take advantage of as many opportunities as you can, both those offered to you and those that you have sought out yourself, ensuring that you continue to develop and improve throughout your time on your graduate scheme.

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