The Big Interview with Sarah Clements

Introducing Sarah Clements:
Sarah is Head of HR at Winchester Cathedral as well as Chair of People & Quality Committee and a Non-Executive Director at Solent Mind.

Why did you embark on a career within Human Resources?

I had worked my way up to operating as a Regional Manager within a financial services organisation when I realised I was more passionate about the ‘people’ element of my work than the purely business aspect.  To move into HR, however, required a readjustment of income and position and that was something that I couldn’t afford to do.  When I had my children, I returned to work part-time and this provided an opportunity to change gear and pursue the HR career I really wanted.  I subsequently became CIPD qualified and Chartered MCIPD and took on the NED role at Solent Mind to build on my skills and experience. .

There are many different elements to HR; which are you most passionate about?

I love the diversity and variety you experience working in Human Resources. No two days are ever the same and there are always several plates to spin!

I enjoy all areas for very different reasons.  The positive aspect of talent attraction, developing people through the business, and designing the EVP are exciting and progressive.  The challenges of Employee Relations and legal issues in their application to the business keep me on my toes and ensure I am continually updating my knowledge and understanding. However, on a personal level, I am also passionate about wellbeing and managing mental health.  This week is Mental Health Awareness week and my NED role with Solent Mind means this is an area I can champion and help shape across the Solent region.

Covid-19 has meant everything as we know it is changing.  What changes are you experiencing and expecting in HR?

On a strategic level, businesses are going to be facing changes around their organisational design. HR will be working with their CEOs and MDs to ensure organisations are fit for purpose and operate efficiently. Now is the time when HR needs to be embracing the principles of agile working and playing the lead role in getting those businesses back up and running. Of key importance will be the ability for businesses to come back more effectively and efficiently and HR will need to ensure the workforce strategy puts the right people in the right place at the right time and at the right cost.  Many businesses have a contingent of home / remote workers as a result of Covid-19. Some organisations had never facilitated this before so whilst in crisis management, they have adopted new policies and procedures; embracing change for the better.

It is Mental Health Awareness Week this week. How do you preserve your sense of wellbeing?

I generally consider myself to be a resilient and optimistic person.   I have my own mantra since the start of Lockdown – the 4 R’s that keep me on track:

  1. Routine – establishing my ‘new normal’ has been really important to me both personally and professionally and I’ve encouraged my family to do the same.  We have, in the main, settled into our own individual and family routines really well 
  2. Running – I always shied away from running, but at the beginning of lockdown I felt it was important to support my daughter in the ‘Couch to 5k’ challenge and, surprisingly, I found I really love it and the feeling I get when we’ve successfully completed another week 
  3. Relationships – in all senses with family, friends, my HR Network, colleagues – this is my absolute key to maintaining positivity.
  4. Reward – treating myself to small rewards, recognising when I have had a good day