Supporting role

November 1, 2018

Catherine Aynsley joined housing association Bernicia Homes as an human resource assistant in 2012 and has since been mentored by head of human resources Karen Turner, who has helped guide Catherine through a development plan that has seen her progress to her current role of human resource business partner. Here are their stories

Karen Turner

I’ve been with Bernicia Homes for ten years; I transferred into the role of human resource manager as part of the voluntary transfer from Wansbeck District Council. I became head of human resources in June 2016. My role has changed over the years from being very hands-on in day-to-day matters to one where I now deal with more strategic issues, identifying our key objectives and keeping the function on track.

I first met Catherine when she attended for an interview for the role of human resource assistant in 2012. She was very nervous but I could see through the nerves someone who was keen to learn and with ambition.

During her time at Bernicia Homes, Catherine has been involved in all aspects of human resources from learning the fundamentals of establishment records and variations of contracts through to discipline and grievance issues. It’s been a great opportunity for Catherine to get a good all-round exposure to human resources.

I meet with Catherine on a monthly basis and now that she is becoming more experienced, we discuss issues that she is wanting a second opinion on, or things that she has dealt with that she thinks I should be aware of. Catherine, I’m sure, will be a future HR director.

Catherine Aynsley

I’m from Ashington and when the organisation was building its new head office locally, I would often pass the site and wonder what it would be like to work there; so when an opportunity arose in the team, I jumped at the chance to apply for the HR assistant role.

I am currently working as one of three HR business partners at Bernicia Homes. I provide advice and guidance to managers and teams in relation to various staffing matters which can range from contractual matters and sickness absence through to the company’s policies and procedures.

The mentorship by Karen has been fairly informal. We had a natural rapport early on and I am able to approach her whenever I have a concern, query or need support to complete objectives and generally in my work/life. We meet on a more formal basis once a month where we reflect on what has gone well or not so well and what I can learn from that to improve our processes.

Through Karen’s support and encouragement, she has motivated me to take on new responsibilities and my confidence has grown greatly. Karen has taught me so much by sharing with me her vast experience of working within HR, making me aware of the array of situations that can arise and how to resolve them. She’s helped me to understand how to support the company’s biggest asset – its people, whilst balancing the expectations of employees, management and the business as a whole.

By studying my Masters degree, I was exposed to HR professionals from a range of private and public industries and taught various different examples of what HR best practice can look like – and I have shared what I learned with Karen and the team. Currently, I’m looking to develop my skills as an HR business partner and hope one day to take on a leadership role.

Bernicia Homes

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