Featured Member Profile: Amanda Tate
Amanda Tate, Senior Human Resources Business Partner, Weir Minerals
What has been your biggest professional challenge so far, and what was the end result?
Taking what I considered to be a professional risk and taking Voluntary Redundancy from a secure, well paid job I had been in for 17 years led me to land my current role which I absolutely love. The risk paid off and I am more confident and much more secure in my professional abilities than I thought possible. Sometimes you just gotta leap!
What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
I had experience of individual and small group redundancy situations but had never had to close a whole plant. During my first visit to the site which was 200 miles away from head office, I was introduced to possibly the nicest most welcoming workplace ever with the loveliest, happiest bunch of people. How bad did I feel knowing what was coming? It was on my second visit, three weeks later we broke the news to the employees in a carefully managed consultation meeting. There were tears and much upset among the staff and then a strange sense of calm descended as the threat of closure had been hanging over the site for a couple of years. Many of the staff were relieved that a decision had finally been made. We commenced consultation and worked closely with the managers and the staff to support them through the consultation and the final decision of closure.
Then COVID19 hit and everything was up in the air. There was a possibility that the decision to close may be postponed or reversed altogether. Key personnel had to shield. My HR colleagues and I were prepared to travel but no hotels were open and we were not legally allowed to do so. All the activity we had planned to support the staff: face to face support from HR; career development work shops; CV and interview skills training from an external agency seemed totally undeliverable.
We quickly had to switch to a virtual support package delivery. IT got on board to support the roll out of the Teams platform to enable consultations to take place; staff got to grips with the new technology and embraced the opportunity to learn new skills. We redesigned the career support package to deliver a blended approach of face to face workshops, albeit in smaller, socially distanced groups, and on-line and telephone consultations. In short, despite the odds and against the backdrop of a world-wide pandemic, we made it work.
During the period leading up to the closure, all outstanding orders were fulfilled – to time, the site recorded no lost time injuries, the project was brought in on budget and to time and with no employment tribunal claims. All staff have since secured alternative employment or have embraced retirement. It is testament to the professionalism of the staff on the site and our ability to be flexible and deliver an agile strategy the business objective was achieved.
If you weren’t in your current position/career, what would you be doing?
I would be doing something involving people – definitely. I am at my best when I am working with others, I am energized working with people and I do my best to make things fun. I think we do our best work when we are happy and I try to interactive positively with everyone. I had a 6- week enforced isolation during COVID and I nearly lost my mind I felt so starved of human connection. I was begging my colleagues to put their cameras on and have teams meetings rather than quick phone calls just to have some contact.
I remember during one interview, I was what the best thing about HR was and my answer was ‘people’ – I was then asked about the worst and I had to say… people! In HR I think we see the most challenging situations; we are often driven to distraction by the crazy antics of people but there is never is a dull day and we have our people to thank for that! I know I need to be surrounded by people.
What would you tell your younger self now if you could?
Life is short so don’t sweat the small stuff; be your own champion because it’s the only opinion that matters.
What is your favorite place you have travelled to, and where have you not been that you would like to go?
I loved Australia. My husband and I landed in Sydney and travelled up the coast in a camper van. It has whetted my appetite for exploration of the southern hemisphere particularly New Zealand but I have to confess to being a simple soul and am happy anywhere by the sea. My favorite place in the world is in Snowdonia, North Wales and a little town called Criccieth which is a very well-kept secret so is blissfully quiet. This summer, Covid-19 restrictions permitting I will be pitching my tent, dusting off my trusty camping stove and running feral on Black Rock Sands with my boys. Magic.
What is the best meal you have ever had?
I love food. I have no one favorite but I do clearly remember the lovely meal my now husband cooked me very early in our relationship and I think that was probably when I decided that he was a keeper. A plethora of lovely meals has been presented over our 30 plus years together and I have been seldom disappointed. I have to say however, I surprised myself with my culinary skills recently when I whipped up a toffee sauce that I dribbled liberally over vanilla ice cream which was amazing!
Favorite book, song, movie?
Book: The Osterman Weekend by Robert Ludlum.
Song: Bran Van 3000, Astounded … In fact the whole album Discosis is a journey of musical awesomeness… highly recommended I defy you not to be converted!
Movie: “Dangerous Liaisons” with John Malkovich and Glenn Close.
If you could time travel, what time period would you visit?
I think I would quite like to flounce around in a big frock and a wig circa 1760’s France but then I would probably get my head chopped off so I will say I will go to the 1980’s and meet my younger self to give her lots of good advice I know she will not take!!!
What items have you crossed off your bucket list? What is one item that is still on the list?
I try very hard to live in the moment and am very happy so feel lucky to have what I have. If I think I want to do something I try to do it. I have just upgraded my car to a very sporty Audi TT which makes me smile more than it should so maybe I could consider that is one ticked off!