Nicola O’Driscoll is a Managing Director with AskHR Solutions. Previous to this she worked with Dunnes Stores and later Brown Thomas where she held various roles including HR Manager, Head of HR and most recently People Director with Brown Thomas Arnotts. We sat down with Nicola recently to find out a little bit more about her…
Where are you from?
I’m from Dublin.
Where did you study?
I went to UCD and studied psychology. It was really helpful and insightful when it came to dealing with people.
Can you tell us a little about your career journey to date?
I started my career as a Trainee Manager in Dunnes Stores in the Ilac Centre, which was when I finished university…I absolutely loved it. Then I moved into retail buying, with Dunnes Stores, and was involved in the blouses and dresses section as an assistant buyer and then into footwear buying.
I moved from there to Brown Thomas and started as a Sales & Merchandise Manager looking after various aspects of the floor. From there I moved into the role of Deputy Store Manager in Brown Thomas. Then an opportunity presented itself and I moved into the role of HR Manager for the Brown Thomas Dublin store.
When I was working in Dunnes I decided to compliment my CV and undertook the national diploma in personnel management in the NCIR in Sandford Road. Subsequently the opportunity of HR Manager came up in Brown Thomas and I decided to apply for it, which was my starting point into HR.
I had previously used some of the AskHR Solutions services, so knew of the company. I became aware of an opportunity which led to becoming the Managing Director of AskHR Solutions earlier this year.
What originally got you interested in your current field of work?
I enjoyed all of the aspects of dealing with people and developing people plans and strategy, that’s what excited me. I also enjoy the mentoring/coaching side of things, seeing peoples career journeys and how they develop and mature, and supporting people along those journeys.
Can you tell us more about what AskHR Solutions does?
On a high level we provide solutions to small and medium enterprises around leadership development, team engagement, bespoke training, workplace mediation (if required), recruitment, the employee cycle (i.e. the journey from induction to when someone leaves a company, ensuring its smooth and enjoyable). We also cover contracts and employment, and in summary the entire suite of HR services.
We also specialise in placing agency workers within the retail sector and we can support by ensuring that our workers are tailored to meet the needs of each client. We also offer a quality business relationship with every client built on trust and track record.
What does your role with AskHR Solutions involve?
My role is Managing Director and is to work directly with clients to ensure we’re delivering a top quality service.
What type of clients do you typically work with?
We work with a wide range of clients. Examples of our typical type of clients would be within the retail, restaurant, manufacturing and pharmaceutical spaces.
What are the aspects of your job that you enjoy most?
I like the face to face engagement with the client and supporting them to resolve any HR issues they may have, whether they are employment relations (ER) or industrial relations (IR) and ensuring they get the outcome they want.
Have you a career highlight that you are most proud of?
When Brown Thomas acquired Arnotts and we had to do a synergies project. We were synergising across two companies with very different IT and people capabilities and with the aim of driving a positive outcome. Like everything it had its challenges but collectively the management team drove an excellent result.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever heard?
When I was a trainee manager I had a super manager who said don’t be afraid to get stuck in, work alongside the team, be authentic and be yourself. This really stuck with me.
Who do you look up to for inspiration or leadership?
I have a number of business people that I admire and ask for advice…they know who they are. Also my Dad has been a great person to ask advice from.
Do you have a favourite quote or motto?
“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” – Simon Sineck
What do you think are the biggest challenges employers face today in terms of HR?
I think it’s keeping the team engaged, especially at the moment…it’s an employee market rather than an employers market. Communication is the biggest part, and challenge, with that.
What is your proudest accomplishment to date, big or small?
I have some career moments that I am very proud of. The greatest and most fulfilling accomplishment and equally a challenge is being a parent.
If you could share a meal with any 4 individuals, living or dead, who would they be?
Peter Kay for fun and devilment, William Shakespeare, Bryan Ferry and Michelle Obama.
What’s one thing that can instantly make your day better?
People appreciating what you’ve done for them, and knowing that things have worked out well.
Where in the world would you most like to travel?
Japan, I’d love to go to Japan.