Interview with Lynsey Perdisatt - Director, HR and Change at the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA)Posted in : HR Interview Series on 27 November 2018
Name: Lynsey Perdisatt
Position & Organisation: Director, HR and Change at the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA)
Number of Employees: 330
Time in Post: 4 years in current role
Previous Job: HR Manager (HPRA) and previous to that Senior HR Business Partner in Arnotts
Tell us about your business in a sentence
HPRA is the regulator for health products, so that’s everything from medicines and medical devices, to blood, tissues and cells, cosmetics, controlled substances and more.
Give us an idea about your early life and career.
I started my HR career with Arnotts Department store and worked my way up from HR Administrator, to Senior HR Business Partner. Arnotts was a fantastic place to learn as the pace was fast and the challenges were varied so every day was different and the experience was invaluable.
What are the key challenges you face in your role?
We are mid-way through our current HR and Change strategy and similar to many others I’m sure, it’s always a challenge to keep the momentum and continue development work in the face of high volumes of operational activities. The requirement to build for the future and focus on the longer term initiatives can be a challenge to get buy-in for when the business is reacting to unprecedented change, a volatile external environment, or both. However, we can’t allow the day to day volumes to overtake our vision for developing the organisation. It’s my job to continue to drive these initiatives forward and flex and adapt as needed, and not drop the strategic focus.
What keeps you going when things get tough?
For me, it’s the people I work with. Having people around you that you can laugh with, have a coffee with or even go for a run or walk with, makes the tough times so much easier. The people I work with are the absolute best part of my job and knowing I have their support makes those tough times manageable.
If you could do any job in the world, what would it be?
I would love to work in conflict resolution. I do some work as a certified workplace mediator and I’m qualified as a conflict coach, which is really rewarding work. Tough to do full time I think as it is very intense, but with the potential to support really positive and life-affirming outcomes for people. It is inspiring to see the results that can be achieved by delivering the right resolution methods at the right time.
Who do you most admire in business locally and/or internationally? Why?
I admire people who use their skills and experiences to support and inspire others in their career journey. It sounds easy but many of us are so busy we don’t appreciate enough what impact sharing our time or insights might mean for someone else. I really admire what Richard Branson has done to share his experience of having dyslexia and to openly encourage children and parents to see it as a gift, as he describes it. He’s honest and passionate and from foundations to scholarships, he also posts regularly on social media. I saw one of his video’s recently on LinkedIn alongside other celebrities like Orlando Bloom who spoke about their personal challenges with dyslexia but also the many advantages it has given them, making them who they are today.
How do you unwind after a tough week?
I have two children, aged 4 and 7 so unwinding after work often means gearing up for a different set of negotiations etc. back at home! Weekends are spent unwinding with family and friends but trying to get a few short jogs/runs in during the week really helps. Full disclosure… most of the runs are spent chatting and making the time for them can be a challenge, but it really helps to clear my mind. Some of the best ideas or solutions are thought of while on a run.
How did you gain an understanding of a more strategic level of HR?
Education really helped me with this and in particular, my MBS in HR Strategies was great in exposing me to the most up to date theories and practices. However, until you get to see these concepts and models play out first hand they can seem a bit abstract. I was very fortunate to work alongside managers and leaders with an appreciation for strategic HR and was in a position to see how they navigated change projects and the development of an organisation. I got involved and I was lucky to have those opportunities. Nothing beats hands-on experience, particularly when complemented with academic knowledge.
What piece of advice would you give to a person trying to reach your position?
Be curious about how and why things work and ask lots of questions. The right kind of questioning will help to frame the problem and bringing that kind of clarity to a leadership role or team is invaluable. This skill is useful in many ways not just for directing energy and resources in the best way, but also in demonstrating to your colleagues your willingness to understand their views, perceptions and needs. Doing this ensures support for the critical solutions by truly understanding the problem. In my opinion appreciative inquiry is a key skill for a successful leader.
Looking back at your career to date, what were the key elements in your jump from HR Administrator at Arnott’s to Director of HR and Change at the HPRA?
I said ‘yes’ to every opportunity and took chances where I saw the possibility to learn something new and add a new string to my bow. That approach doesn’t work for everyone and there were many times, especially in the early days where I felt I had bitten off more than I could chew. It did teach me a lot about my strengths and weaknesses and gave me greater confidence. It also pushes you to maintain a certain momentum and when that’s no longer achievable it makes you reflect and ask “what’s next?”.
What is your proudest career achievement to date?
2018 has been a great year for our team and I am truly proud of the contribution and impact we have made in our organisation. This year alone saw HPRA being the first public sector organisation to gain the KeepWell Mark, not to mention the HR & Change team being shortlisted in three different categories in the Legal Island Irish HR Awards. Above all for me, seeing the team develop over the past number of years and watch individual’s career development journeys has been the best part of my role to date.
Lynsey has been shortlisted in the 'Leadership in HR' category for this year's Irish HR Awards on Thursday 6th December.This article is correct at 27/11/2018
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