Picture of Clare Farmer Global HR Director at IQE

The Big Interview with Clare Farmer

For this week's Big Interview, Rosie Jenkins caught up with Clare Farmer, Global HR Director at IQE, a global leader in the design and manufacture of advanced semiconductor epiwafer products that drive connected 5G technologies.

How did you get into HR? Have you specialised along the way? What do you love (are you most passionate) about being an HR Director?

I fell into HR; my inquisitive nature was the draw. 

I have contemplated specialising many times, in truth I’ve found it tough as a generalist to break into a specialism, it appears easy the other way around which I still find very odd!  

If the opportunity presented itself engagement, talent or L&D would certainly be right up there.

I love as HRD that you see the business as a whole and partner multiple stakeholders, each with different wants, needs and expectations.  

My passion is improving employee engagement and realising the multiple benefits.

What challenges do you/your team currently face? 

We are a brand-new UK HR team and due to COVID-19, despite working together some seven months, we’ve not yet all met face-to-face and worked under the same roof! 

Thanks to technology we are all managing to work, which of course is fantastic, but nothing replaces face-to-face when building relationships.

How has COVID-19 changed your role as HRD? What lies ahead (trends, topics) for you in the next 6-12 months?

I joined IQE at the tail end of February 2020. Fortunately, I had built some relationships with key stakeholders before the first lockdown occurred. 

I am new to the sector and been unable to conclude my hands-on onboarding and visits to all our sites, therefore as a visual person, it’s been tricky to fully appreciate challenges and impacts for an environment that I’m not fully familiar with. 

I see proactive and authentic support for our employees – key and remote workers as the biggest thing to aid well-being, retention and engagement.  

Given our planned growth, adapting the way we work is essential to continue to compete and attract talent.

Fortunately, our sector, semiconductors is one doing very well right now. 

We’ve had our best H1 on record, this, of course, is amazing!  

Our challenge is to avoid complacency, continue to deliver for our customers and shareholders alike while leading our growth and change programmes which require alignment to our three-year plan to ensure organisational and individual focus and personal performance.

D&I is hot on the HR agenda at present, what actions have you taken around this topic?

We’ve recently signed up with Talent Tech Charter (TTC), an employer-led initiative to encourage greater inclusion and diversity in the tech workforce of the UK, and it is supported by the UK Digital Strategy.

Signatories of the charter make a number of pledges in relation to their approach to recruitment and retention.  

Resounding advice from other signatories at differing stages is ‘know your data and aiming points’ – this is where we are right now along with finalising our task-force which will be sponsored by our Chairman, Phil Smith, who is an incredibly passionate ambassador. 

What impact has the use of technology had (the 4th Industrial Revolution) on how you deliver HR to the business?

A large change programme for the UK team is investment in internal infrastructure. We are currently finalising available options which will result in us capturing meaningful data with ease to showcase data trends, improve our candidate and employee experiences through a user-friendly 

Applicant tracking and onboarding system plus of course the multiple benefits to be reaped with line manager gaining greater visibility as well as our employees through self-service and visible total reward data. 

What would you change within the benefit of hindsight?

I am who I am and I believe I am better for it, personally and professionally as a result of the many things I’ve encountered – so nothing fundamental.  

I do listen and act on my gut feel and when my moral compass or personal values are tested, I have always remained true to myself and my beliefs. 

What advice/hints/tips would you give an aspiring HRD?

Talk to well-regarded HRD professionals across multi-sectors to gain true insight, HR, is not for the faint-hearted, I believe this gets tougher as an HRD.

Align with key-stakeholders to truly connect with the business.

Hone your skills and abilities to pro-actively illustrate how engagement and meaningful people management can improve productivity and cost reduction.

Develop and continually refine your personal resilience. 

Accept HR is multi-faceted – understand first-hand transactional, operational HR alongside creating and executing meaningful people strategies truly aligned to the business. 

Acceptance that you cannot please all of the people any of the time – that’s tough! 

Image linking to other HR Blogs like the Big Interview with HR Director Clare Farmer