Interview with Shauna Hughes - Owner, Eye Change Consultancy

Posted in : HR Interview Series on 1 February 2017
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Shauna Hughes, Eye Change ConsultancyName: Shauna Hughes
Position & Organisation: Owner
Time in Post: 3 years
Previous Job: HRD Caterpillar

Tell us about your business in a sentence

Eye Change Consultancy assists organisations, groups and individuals in seeing (Eye) the Changes that they need to make in order to attain the results they require this includes coaching / mentoring, providing HR guidance; developing High Performing Teams and Business Partners.

Give us an idea about your early career 

I came across an ‘interview’ I did when I was 14 that asked what my career aspirations were. My answer was I wanted to be a psychologist and help people.  I ended up studying occupational psychology and forging a career in HR and Business Partnering roles.  My first job out of university was as a training officer at FG Wilson’s in Larne. They were bought over by Caterpillar Inc and I spent 18 happy years there in a variety of roles. From the age of about 14 until I started with FG Wilson’s I had so many jobs to bring in ‘pocket money’ and assist with payment through university.

My first job, however, was a waitress in a hotel. The manager of the hotel had a very important business meeting and I was asked to bring a Gin and bitter lemon. Being totally clueless about such a posh drink I brought a gin and a “bit a lemon”. Despite the fact the lemon was on a paper doily on a side plate I was moved to washing dishes in the kitchen. It was better craic there anyway.

What are the key challenges you face in your role?

As I left a global-facing role to being self-employed my key challenge was letting people know I even existed and the value I could add to them and their businesses. Up until that point, I hadn’t recognised the importance of networking outside the orgainsation.

The other challenge is one we all face and that’s juggling work and the rest of my life, in particular, my kids.

What keeps you going when things get tough?

Honestly, I love to work. I love what I do and I love making a positive difference to people and organisations.

If you could do any job in the world, what would it be?

I am right where I want to be. If I had the desire to do something else I would stop this and just go for it.

Who do you most admire in business locally and/or internationally? Why?

I admire those people who work hard, have the bravery to go for what they want and then when they achieve it, make sure and look after their people and society. These are the companies I work one to one with, Legal-Island and Team Solutionz to name a few.

How do you unwind after a tough week?

I unwind every day in small ways and ensure the stress never builds. But at the weekend and during the week, if I can squeeze it in, I walk with my dog and the kids, usually in the forest near us.

What’s your top office/business bugbear?

Time wasting – the offenders are numerous and include meetings that aren’t succinct or even relevant; people who take all day to get to the point (sorry), the avoidance of dealing with the “elephant in the room” (as humans we tend to fear conflict and I’d rather get it on the table and address the issues and move on).

I also have to add people who think they are better than other people just because of their job title.

What are the key characteristics of your top performing employees?

  • The desire to succeed, whilst at the same time ensuring the business and others are successful too
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Firm but fair
  • Open, fearless communication

In your view what is the best thing an organisation can do to motivate staff and drive higher performance?

Listen to employees and don’t be afraid to go against “it’s the way this is done” to create better ways to work for the person and the organisation.

What skills are essential for a top career in HR?

Business focus / partnership and the ability to deal with ambiguity.

How did you gain an understanding of a more strategic level of HR?

Experience. I remember being told that due to a promotion I needed to think strategically. It took me some time to realise what that meant and by that time I was doing it due to necessity.

What piece of advice would you give to a person trying to reach your position?

Keep the big picture / objective in mind, define the milestones to get you there and never loose confidence in yourself.

Also always make your boss a success – maybe a bit old school but it still resonates with me, especially if I’m the boss.

What is your proudest career achievement to date?

I have had so many proud moments in my career but the most recent one is to live what I believe. I recognised that after 18 years with my employer it was time to move on. I left and started out on my own. I am delighted that companies and people have the confidence in my abilities to actually pay me for something I love to do.

This article is correct at 01/02/2017

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