Hailing from Clare, but now settled in Limerick, HR Manager Tara Charnley takes us through her career journey to date and how HR kept pulling her in, no matter the workplace.
When I think back now to my childhood ambitions and what I had hoped to be; I had always planned on studying Journalism in Trinity College, Dublin. News, current affairs and global events had always been of interest to me but as a 16-year-old sitting my Leaving Certificate, I felt I was too young to make the move to the big city of Dublin just yet.
With my Journalism career taking a seat on the bench for now, I decided that what I needed was some real-world experience, and so I started working in retail for a few months before taking on a role as Passenger Services Agent in Shannon Airport. The deadlines and scheduling required for working in a busy terminal meant it was an incredibly fast paced environment to work in and it most certainly honed my time management skills. From there, continuing in the aviation industry I worked for Lufthansa Technik assisting project managers with documentation for aircraft maintenance. Funnily enough my time in the aviation sector gave me a slight fear of flying!
I had fully intended to go back to study, but once I realised I could achieve a lot without having to go to college (and had newfound financial independence 😛), it seemed less and less like a priority. Working from an early age really helped to motivate me to achieve my goals. “What you plant now, you harvest later” is my motto. Having made the decision not to go to college or to go travelling, I focused on working, growing my career and when I was 21, I bought my own home. A real milestone achievement for me and I thank myself now for having been so prudent then!
In 2007 I joined Lidl Ireland during their busy expansion phase. This I would describe as the “university” of my career. I worked with amazing, driven, capable people, and had exposure to many different departments; Advertising, Logistics, Procurement, Property, Supply Chain, and most notably HR. This was my first real taste of HR and I was surprised at how quickly it drew me in. My tenure there really was a fantastic, educational experience and I gained skills that have stood to me to this day.
After almost 7 years in Lidl I was ready for a new challenge and so I went Cork bound and joined Healthcare 21 as PA to the Managing Director. Working alongside someone as ambitious & competent as the MD was incredible and it was a role I really enjoyed. I grew in confidence in the company and took on a Project Manager role before becoming an Executive Assistant, all the while holding HR responsibilities… a pattern was emerging, and I found I really enjoyed this area.
I joined Asystec 2 years ago in February 2018 as PA to the Managing Director, Les Byrne. As the Asystec company was continuously growing and the team expanding, having a HR function within the company was something I felt quite strongly about and so I spoke to Les about the possibility of taking on some HR responsibilities. He saw the merit in having HR as a fully realised role and I was delighted to take up the role of HR Manager some months later. My day-to-day life at Asystec is very varied which I believe (for me anyway) is key to job satisfaction and enjoyment. My colleagues are highly skilled, ambitious and fun-loving people, which makes it an enjoyable and collaborative environment.
In 2018, with several years HR experience under my belt, study finally came calling, and I decided to enrol in a part time, Higher Diploma course in Human Resource Management. I found it really beneficial to be studying best practice, while also working to implement changes in Asystec and I really believe I got more from the course because I already had a strong understanding of the workplace. Working full time and trying to incorporate studying wasn’t easy but technology was an invaluable help; I had remote access to course work, could do video submissions of content, and was collaborating with other students via WhatsApp and the college Intranet. I was very proud to complete the course last year and attain a Distinction.
Looking back through my HR career to date, I can see a huge shift in the employment landscape. Times have changed and it’s very much an employee’s market now and their employment preferences are reflective of the generation they grew up in. Generation Z and Millennials (including myself) have been shaped by the digital transformation we have grown up with, and thus flexibility is high on the list of demands now and organisations today must have the technology available to support that working lifestyle.
The fact is life is not 9-5! Things can happen; appointments need to be attended, pipes burst, cars break down (I had an unlucky 2019 😛), all within the same time period you share with your employer. Flexibility is imperative for a good work life balance; I strongly believe trust between both parties is the key to success.
While a far cry from a current affairs Journalist now, I am very happy with my role today and take pride in knowing that I am helping to make my workplace a better place for Asystec employees, both present and future.