After a varied career, from supermarket trainee to becoming a corporate head of human resources, Joanna Charles has set up in business offering HR support to SMEs in her home city of Bradford.
With more than 20 years of experience working in HR for firms including telecoms giant O2 and other major corporates like William Hill and Asda, Joanna has launched The HR Dept Bradford.
Based out of offices in Thornton, her new company will offer the full range of HR advice and support on an outsourced basis. It means Joanna’s director-level expertise will be available at an affordable rate for local small and medium sized businesses.
“It’s really exciting to be able to concentrate all my generalist experience working with local organisations”, she said
“It’s been something I’ve been looking to do for the past three or four years. My last role was all encompassing, with business development, operations, client interaction – the full suite of activity. So I realised I could do it myself. I loved the client relationships and that’s where my strength is.
“In my most recent job one of my clients was Bradford City Council, so I gained some insight into the local business community here. It’s a real growth area, vibrant and diverse. Bradford has been named as the best city in the UK to start a business and with all the work going into the Bradford BID there are exciting times ahead.
“So there’s lots of opportunity for me to support that growth. I’m looking forward to helping businesses maximise the effectiveness of their people, and to help with any employment issues those companies need to help them develop.”
With two step-daughters as well as a seven-year-old son, Joanna said she was looking forward to spending more time with her family.
“The work life balance is certainly something that appeals to me,” she said. “Corporate life involves a lot of travelling so I’m going to enjoy being closer to home, taking my son to school, and to watch Bradford City play at weekends – that kind of thing.
“I’ve got lovely offices in Thornton that look over the hills and, even though I loved aspects of corporate life, I’m going to enjoy the independence, the flexibility and the control, and the ability to make a tangible difference to the businesses I work with. I’m really excited to get started.”
Small businesses are facing growing challenges in employment and people management. With tribunal fees abolished, the rising gig economy, new legislation such as GDPR, a highly competitive recruitment market and the need to manage increasingly more sensitive conversations around mental health and diversity, just to name a few, HR is more important, but more complex, than ever.
“There’s lots for SMEs in particular to think about,” said Joanna. “Company owners are likely to be specialists in their particular field, not in employment law. So HR can be a real headache for them.
“What I’m offering is a safe pair of hands to let the business owner focus on what they do best, as well as strategic support for those companies looking to grow and develop.
“If the prospect of employing an HR professional in house is unrealistic, and if you want experience and high-level expertise, then The HR Dept Bradford offers the perfect solution.”
The HR Dept is an international business, with a network of over 71 franchisees providing HR services in 109 territories in the UK, Ireland and Australia.
Managing director Gemma Tumelty said: “It’s great to see someone of Joanna’s calibre and experience offering HR services to SMEs in Bradford. We wish her all the best operating the licence and are sure she will make it a great success.”