Interview with Ruth Mellett - HR & HSE Director, Circle K Ireland

Posted in : HR Interview Series on 10 May 2018 Issues covered:

Ruth Mellett headshotName: Ruth Mellett

Position & Organisation: Human Resources & Health and Safety Director, Circle K Ireland

Number of Employees: 2,300

Time in Post: 2 years

Previous Job: Corporate & Commercial HR Manager, Topaz Energy Limited


Tell us about your business in a sentence

Circle K (previously Topaz Energy) is Ireland’s leading fuel and convenience retailer. With over 400 service stations nationwide, the company has a strong presence in almost every local community across the country.

Give us an idea about your early life and career OR what was your first ever job?

I feel like I was always destined for a life in retail – my mother owned a pharmacy and my first job was working there on Saturday afternoons. She was and still remains a fantastic female role model for my life in business.

What are the challenges you face in your role?

The pace of change in our business as well as the challenge of attracting and retaining staff. To stay ahead of our competitors and become the preferred employer of choice, we continue to build engaging roles for our staff and provide career paths and development within those roles.

What keeps you going when things get tough?

Our business is constantly evolving and today’s challenge will not be tomorrow’s – and that is exciting.

If you could do any job in the world, what would it be?

I would own my own bespoke business. There are many ideas of what that business could be, ranging from the obvious (consultancy) to the dream (café/cookery school) to the fun (a cattery! Although my husband might disown me with this one.)

Who do you most admire in business locally and/or internationally? Why?

I admire all of the small/medium-sized enterprises in Ireland that are actively growing their dream every day and reclaiming once forgotten highstreets. I love nothing more than seeing a creative business pop up and carve out its’ path to success. The same sentiment goes for the creative new Irish online businesses too. But there is nothing better than meeting some of these entrepreneurs face to face.

How do you unwind after a tough week?

Good food and good wine with family and friends. Getting away from Dublin and back home to Roscommon/Galway as part of that is even better.

What’s your top office/business bugbear?

“Politics” or people not taking the time to get to know one another. You spend most of your time with colleagues – when you really know what makes them tick, working with them is a joy.

What are the characteristics of your top performing employees?

Subject matter experts but with a keen commercial mindset and a willingness to stretch out of their comfort zone. Cool, calm, collected, supportive and efficient. Customer Service is key.

How do you gain an understanding of a more strategic level of HR?

I look at best practices within our sector and elsewhere and continually work to broaden my horizons in Ireland and globally through the HR network in our parent company Circle K Europe/Alimentation Couche Tard.

Looking back at your career to date, what were the key elements in your jump from HR Graduate in Tesco Ireland to HR & HSE Director in Circle K Ireland?

Acting with integrity, treat people with respect at all times, have a strong customer service mindset and never be afraid to try new things. Finding supportive Managers and Mentors along the way is the icing on the cake.

Thinking of your experience to date in the world of HR, what changes would you say have affected your role most?

Employment market fluctuations in Ireland have meant we have had to think harder and smarter about our Retail attraction and retention strategy. In the space of the eleven years of my career in HR, we have gone from boom to bust and back to boom again, meaning there are several lessons I have taken with me along the way about efficiencies within administration. I have also learnt the value in creating a top class employer value proposition and being an employer of choice for your employees. Meaning throughout all of the market changes, we can still be seen as a company who values and recognises its employees and in return cultivates a strong sense of loyalty. Our business has worked hard on this over the past two years and we are excited to strengthen the focus even further as we face into our rebrand to Circle K across all of our service stations.

What would be the key piece of advice you would give to people considering a career in human resources?

I would give them the same advice my late sister gave me at the time that I was looking to choose my final year speciality for my Commerce degree. She worked in HR, but was ten years ahead of me and told me if I planned to go down the HR route, then to make sure I brought my thick skin with me!

What is your proudest career achievement to date?

Being part of such a huge journey with Circle K Ireland since I joined in March 2015. We went from Irish owned entrepreneurial minded Topaz Energy who acquired Esso Ireland to joining the global Alimentation Couche Tard family and starting a two-year journey to become Circle K Ireland. That journey was not for everyone, but I am immensely proud of each and every employee who has been part of our transition to date. And even more excitement to come across the country with our rebrand over the coming months.


This article is correct at 10/05/2018

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