Beccy Cameron, Crowe’s HR director, profiled by Principal Connections HR Leader of the Month series.
The following interview was first published in September 2019.
Describe your career journey and tell us about Beccy Cameron the person?
Originally from Wales, my career began in one of the UK’s largest High Street retailers. I gained a huge amount of experience through the newspaper industry, banking and high tech software engineering before being appointed to senior management as Head of HR for the Welsh Environmental Agency where I managed a large team of HR specialists servicing a heavily-unionised workforce of over 1,000 employees across Wales.
After relocating to Ireland in 1994, I held senior HR roles where I established the HR functions from the ground up, in Bord Bia, The Irish Sports Council and more recently Tax Free Worldwide, a global fintech company. Prior to my current role as Director of HR for Crowe in Ireland, I held the position of Head of HR in Netshare Ireland, a high-tech engineering telecommunications company which was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Vodafone. In 2018, Netshare merged back into Vodafone so I opted for redundancy.
I have been very fortunate to gain extensive experience of HR practices in Ireland, the UK and some European and Nordic Countries and have enjoyed every moment. Academically, I hold a BA in Personnel Management from the University of South Wales, Advanced Diploma in Executive Coaching and Mentoring and the IITD Professional Certificate in Learning & Development.
I’m told I have endless energy and am ‘glass half full’ person! I like change and bring a ‘can do, will do’ attitude to life. A daughter of an RAF pilot, I’ve lived in 16 different homes across the UK, Germany and Saudi Arabia and went to 11 different schools, so constant change, managing life’s challenges, networking and understanding people is in my DNA. I really enjoy being around people – human resource management was the natural career choice for me.
Describe your current company?
Crowe is a top-ten accountancy and business advisory firm in Ireland and part of the Crowe Global network, the eighth-largest network in the world. We provide audit, tax and business consultancy services to a variety of clients, from owner-managed firms to multinational organisations and some of Ireland’s leading national companies.
We have a strong reputation for learning and development and offer a comprehensive graduate trainee programme and a well-structured framework for professional development from trainee right through to partner. With over 60% staff under the age of 35 years, the HR function has to strategically align to their expectations in order to keep employees engaged.
The firm is very much a people-based organisation and the benefit of being a medium-sized practice is that our size fosters a strong team ethos. Employees are encouraged to have an entrepreneurial spirit and are given the responsibility and opportunity to build a lasting rewarding career with the firm.
What do you see as the most important challenges facing HR Leaders today?
Apart from the constant need to innovate and cope with digitisation, my current HR challenges are three fold. Firstly, maintaining a steady level of employee engagement in a workforce that has up to five different individual generational (e.g. Millennials, Generation X & Y) engagement drivers and set of values. Secondly, delivering on an individual’s career expectations while faced with an economy that has all but full employment and finally keeping abreast of employee retention issues.
What do you believe the biggest advances in human resources will be over the next five years?
The rapid transformation of the workplace over the last three decades is on a scale that no other generation has ever experienced. With this is mind, the accountancy sector faces significant changes in relation to Artificial Intelligence, technology and the ability for the human mind and body to keep up! It is an exciting yet challenging time for all.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
Although not actual advice per se, my first HR manager warned me that ‘the second loneliest job in any organisation after the CEO/MD is the HR role’. I took this to heart and it has informed my inclusive approach to being a people champion in all of the organisations I have worked throughout my career.
After that, the advice I give myself every day is to always try be true to my word, never make assumptions, challenge but be kind and do not take anything personally! Not always easy but I try.
What keeps you motivated day to day?
The sheer variety of my role within an ever-changing environment helps keep me motivated. The source of all I do is related to people and championing their causes. It is empowering, rewarding and totally suits my personality.
What has been your proudest career achievement to date?
Difficult question as there have been a few. Establishing three HR functions in organisations that have gone on to become significant household names makes me proud. More recently, I was proud to be appointed to Crowe. I am the first full-time HR professional to be appointed to the firm but I find an openness to introducing modern HR initiatives and practices, which is really refreshing.
Who inspires you professionally?
I never have to think hard here as I am a keen follower of two people. The first is Richard Branson – I just love his quote, “If you look after your staff they’ll look after your customers, it is that simple”, and the second person is Daniel Goleman. His book on Emotional Intelligence and subsequent research and writings on human behaviour is endlessly interesting.
How do you stay up to date?
I read and listen a lot! Plus, over the years I have built a wide HR network which I use to sound off and explore issues with. I also attend masterclasses, listen to HR-related TED Talks and pod casts.
Tell us about your interests and how you relax?
As a former Welsh international marathon runner, I have always been a fitness fanatic. For the past 20 years I have been practicing yoga and am a qualified Iyengar yoga teacher. I teach a class once a week in Enniskerry and attend regular weekly classes and weekend workshops in Ireland and abroad. I am also an avid reader, love gardening and socialising with family and friends.
Beccy Cameron oversees HR for the firm.
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