As we reach a milestone two years since the Covid pandemic first gripped the UK, the past 24 months have been tough for all of us, but young people have arguably had it especially difficult. In September 2020, Office for National Statistics (ONS) data revealed the number of 16- to 24-year-olds in employment fell by 156,000 in the three months to July 2020, and in April 2021, a Resolution Foundation report found the unemployment rate among 18- to 24-year-olds jumped 18 per cent between the second and third quarters of 2020.
More latterly, an Institute for Employment Studies (IES) report from November 2021 found that almost two-thirds (62 per cent) of people aged 16 to 24 said the pandemic had made it harder to find high-quality work. There were also significant reductions in apprenticeship starts, graduate schemes and work experience placements at the onset of the crisis.
To that end, People Management is proud to introduce the inaugural HR 30 Under 30 – a list of the best and brightest young HR and L&D practitioners set to become the next generation of leaders within the profession. Nominated by either themselves or a colleague, they are individuals who demonstrate talent and skill in their roles and an understanding of the profession and its place within organisations; show promise to lead the next generation of HR professionals; and embody the CIPD’s professional principles: Work Matters, People Matter and Professionalism Matters.
From a significant number of nominations, the final list has been hand-picked by the People Management editorial team as those who best meet the criteria above. Congratulations to them all.
Dustin Hafki, Assoc CIPD
Business consultant, people and research at People Spark Solutions
Dustin joined the newly formed company on an internship in June 2020 before being offered a permanent role. He already has a range of diverse work under his belt, including leading a team of organisational experts to help a client become more customer focused. Dustin is a champion of Generation Z, and his research was recently shared at the CIPD’s Northern Conference. The business’s owner says clients specifically request Dustin’s service, and that he has a bright future ahead.
Abiola Bello, Assoc CIPD
Interim head of HR at UBL UK
Abiola has overcome several challenges in her lifetime, including being diagnosed with retinoblastoma (cancer of the retina) aged one and not being expected to see her fifth birthday. After other setbacks, at 19 she began an HR apprenticeship, and has since completed her Level 5 CIPD qualification and a Master’s in HR, and this year plans to undertake an LLM in employment law. She sees herself as successful because of what she’s gone through and because she’s defied odds, not just because of her job title.
HR advisor at St Barnabas Hospices
Charlotte was made redundant from her previous role due to Covid, and in the year since she joined St Barnabas has grown in confidence, according to her nominator. As one of only two advisors supporting 500 employees, ranging from clinical staff to retail workers, Charlotte is exposed to all HR-related functions, yet takes even challenging work in her stride and isn’t afraid to go the extra mile. Now managing two recently appointed HR apprentices, Charlotte’s energy, commitment and innovative thinking ensure she is an excellent role model.
Recruitment specialist at Telespazio UK
As recruitment specialist, Bethan is in charge of identifying skilled candidates for technical roles in highly sought-after fields. Her nominator says she has learned about the business’s STEM skills and gender diversity difficulties quickly, putting a stronger focus on diversifying its recruitment process and external and internal messaging. She has also used her role to champion stronger diversity within the industry, and supports those in under-represented areas to progress internally by supporting their confidence.
Daniel Anderson-Poore, Assoc CIPD
HR advisor at Vistry Partnerships
During his four years in HR, Daniel has already progressed to advisor. He spearheaded improvements to his former employer’s onboarding process, as well as driving engagement through fundraising efforts. He currently supports HR activity among 600 employees, led a review of the firm’s family-friendly policies and is driving several inclusion and diversity initiatives. Outside work, Daniel runs a mentoring scheme with the CIPD’s Wessex branch.
Chloe Jordan, Assoc CIPD
Head of HR and change at Fosters Funeral Directors
Nominated by not one but two of her colleagues, Chloe (pictured, right) joined the company as an HR assistant fresh from university in 2019 and has since carried out “intricate” casework that many of her seniors have not. As well as redesigning the culture, Chloe has rolled out a new suite of policies and guided the business through a long period of change. Thanks to her recent promotion, she now sits as part of the senior leadership team. According to one of her nominators, she is “phenomenal”.
James Williams, foundation MCIPD
HR manager at Tayna
Since joining Tayna to lead its HR function after working in L&D for two years, James (pictured, middle right) has focused on embedding the CIPD’s professional principles, including clearly defining roles, developing new policies and ensuring HR is visible within the organisation. He has introduced a new recruitment process, supported by an equality and diversity policy, and also boosted wellbeing support within the company for both managers and employees, including dedicated mental health support months and a new and improved employee benefits scheme.
HR manager at Birketts LLP
Promoted to HR manager from officer level in mid-2021, Martha is responsible for generalist HR, as well as health and wellbeing and development of trainee solicitors at the top 100 UK law firm. A particularly successful project of Martha’s is the Thrive programme, which has been instrumental in breaking down the stigma attached to mental health conditions, and included senior members of staff sharing stories of their own mental health. Martha aims to be known as someone who promotes the positives of HR, including the variety of work and the technical skills required.
Tobi Omoode, CIPD student member
HR generalist EMEA at Power Integrations
Tobi discovered his passion for HR, as well as his skills in resolving conflict and problem solving, while studying psychology at university in Nigeria, and chose to relocate to the UK in order to pursue a career in the profession. Despite the challenges this brought, he managed to secure his first HR role while still studying through “networking and perseverance”, and is eager to learn new skills and help HR become the “partner that management needs”. He’s currently studying for a CIPD Associate Diploma in People Management.
Emma Hollands, CIPD student member
Talent manager at Punch!
Emma originally began her career in sales at Punch! before being offered the role of talent executive. Now promoted, Emma leads a team of three and heads up HR, recruitment and L&D for the agency. When Covid hit less than a year into her role, she was challenged to implement Punch!’s remote recruitment and onboarding strategy, and she has been instrumental in growing the firm’s headcount by 40 per cent. She has also put in place a unique training framework, by which each employee has a training journey linked to their own development and progression.
Jessica Dolphin, Assoc CIPD
HR service manager at Leeds City Council
Jessica currently manages the council’s employee relations, and recently led on agreeing an updated consultation framework with trade unions to help mitigate compulsory redundancies and save the council £100m over five years. She previously ran initiatives to increase employee disclosure rates around protected characteristics, and used data to support the council’s HR leadership team on changes required as a result of the Covid pandemic. Away from work, she also mentors local university students studying HR.
Eirini Triantou, CIPD student member
HR manager UK, Nordics at Zadig&Voltaire
Despite only having a year of experience, Eirini is already leading the HR department at one of the world’s most high-end luxury brands. She’s responsible for recruitment, payroll, L&D and ER, including aligning the strategy from the brand’s Paris HQ with her markets, and has implemented several projects to improve retail employees’ experiences, such as better training, reward evaluation and initiating wellbeing discussions – all fulfilling her passion of making work more meaningful, particularly in such a fast-paced industry.
People and culture director at Gallagher
In the space of a year, Victoria has built a completely new people and culture team of seven from scratch to change the business’s attitude towards HR, driving its approach and mindset forward to be able to grow, according to Victoria’s nominator. Having been promoted, she is now responsible for multinational colleagues as well as the UK, and has been recognised by the company’s US parent for her “exceptional” work. Victoria is determined to make Gallagher a better place for people to work and feel empowered to be themselves.
Faye Walsby, CIPD student member
HR and people advisor at MCFT
Having been offered an HR role with MCFT after completing work experience, Faye was given responsibility for the ‘pathways to work’ project, engaging with local schools and creating recruitment materials. Fast forward four years, and MCFT is now a key employer of young people, with Gold status from The 5% Club and Faye representing MCFT in the South East Apprenticeship Ambassador Network. Faye is looking forward to completing her CIPD Level 5 qualification later this year.
Isi Onwukwe, Assoc CIPD
HR executive at Doughty Street
Within a year of Isi (pictured, left) taking on Doughty Street’s I&D initiatives, the barristers’ chambers had won a UK Diversity Legal Award for managing diverse talent. As well as writing a new strategy that included diversifying recruitment, resulting in 15 per cent better diversity among staff, Isi also updated the chambers’ constitution to ensure representation across ethnicities and genders in all teams, and updated its election process, resulting in the first Black woman being co-opted onto the board within a year of this change.
Vikki Back, CIPD student member
Head of people at SimplyCook
As SimplyCook’s sole HR professional, Vikki has grown the workforce by 119 per cent since December 2020 and spearheaded reward and L&D best practice, as well as handling the company’s many Covid-secure protocols – all alongside studying for her CIPD Association Diploma in People Management. The colleague who nominated Vikki says she faces some “steep learning curves”, with the company recently having been acquired by Nestle, the world’s largest food company, but that her compassion makes “the extra difference”.
Director of inclusion and workforce equity at CSG
At 29 years of age, Tim is already a key player in the inclusion and diversity sphere, having spent more than a decade in the field and previously holding senior I&D roles at international organisations including the British Red Cross. He’s a frequent speaker at events including CIPD conferences, where he’s shared his lived experiences of being gay and disabled, and has also set up his own consultancy offering his time and expertise to not-for-profits to develop their I&D expertise.
Rachel Lockwood, Assoc CIPD
HR advisor at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHT)
Rachel started working for LTHT in 2015 and has worked her way up to her current role. She successfully completed a postgraduate diploma in HR management in 2020, having begun the qualification while still on maternity leave. With the trust recently having adopted a personalised approach to ER, Rachel has fully leaned in to this new strategy, and sees her role as a counsellor, teacher, mediator and therapist, all rolled into one. She is proud of the journey she’s been on to get to where she is today, and wouldn’t dream of a different career.
HR business partner at St John Ambulance
Starting her career in the Royal Air Force at just 16, Antonia secured an apprenticeship and worked for senior staff at the MoD and RAF High Wycombe. One of her roles was looking after HR for deployments, with a highlight being changing the way these were managed to allow colleagues to spent more time with their families. After nine years, Antonia was medically discharged with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), and refused to let it define her. She is now settled in her permanent role and studying for a Master’s in HRM.
HR advisor at Lockton
A former colleague of Megan’s who nominated her says she has achieved a lot in her short career so far. In her previous role, Megan was the primary contact for support with HR matters including disciplinaries, sickness absence and redundancies, and also channelled her passion for mental health by joining the wellness committee and taking ownership of several wellbeing initiatives. In her current organisation she’s already supported the change of several policies and processes and continues to prioritise mental health and be a great role model for self-care.
Jack French, Assoc CIPD
Talent acquisition sourcer at Bloomberg LP
Jack is a British Army veteran who reskilled to pursue a career in HR. He specialises in talent acquisition, recruiting for the firm’s global functions. An advocate of I&D in hiring, Jack was recently awarded Bloomberg’s HR Newcomer of the Year. Jenna Follet, head of data, support and corporate functions recruitment EMEA and APAC, says Jack has “huge potential”, and that he displays strong recruitment skills and knowledge of other HR functions, and works with HRBPs and I&D partners to drive true value for the business.
Group L&D manager at Rentokil Initial
Alexandra joined Rentokil Initial on its graduate scheme in 2016, and joined its group HR function permanently in 2018. After spending time in Australia supporting an HR system rollout, she returned to take over digital learning, managing a team of six. Under her leadership, the team has surpassed all expectations and seen use of its learning management system jump to an all-time high. Alexandra’s nominator says she has an ability to thrive in the company’s complex, fast-paced environment, and that she adds real value to the organisation.
Emilie Parsons, Assoc CIPD
HR officer at SUEZ UK
Joining SUEZ UK just a month before the first lockdown meant Emilie’s role got off to a challenging start. Undertaking her day job while also studying for her CIPD Advanced Diploma, Emilie has recently been involved in a project to switch to a new performance management system, as well as supporting the running of the firm’s women’s network. She also advocates for young people in the local area and encourages them into STEM careers, having hosted virtual work experience during lockdown, and acts as regional sustainability champion.
HR business partner at GEA
Having joined GEA as a junior HRBP in 2018, Iva (pictured, middle left) is now responsible for three divisions within the UK, and in the last year has supported site closures and restructures, as well as hiring into senior positions and delivering manager training on a new global appraisal process. Iva was nominated by her manager, who says she “takes it all in her stride” and that nothing seems to faze her.
Liam Clancy, Assoc CIPD
HR business partner at Ford Motor Company
Liam has been with Ford for six years, during which time he has held a number of different HR roles – most recently, he was promoted to management level, at which he’s supporting the company’s commercial vehicles team, as well as standing up the new Ford Pro organisation. His greatest achievement at Ford, he says, is forming the firm’s innovation lab, which he has been setting up for the past two years.
Mary Jo Cabanes-Book, Assoc CIPD
HR manager at Network N
During her time at Network N, Mary Jo has set up the company’s HR function from scratch, as well as implemented an extensive people strategy that has helped it double in size in the space of a year. She is currently studying for a Master’s in HR Management at the University of the West of England, Bristol, and has ambitions to become an HR director and a Chartered Member of the CIPD within three years. A colleague who nominated Mary Jo says she “always looks at different ways to support her employees”.
HR advisor at SHP
Despite only being in her second role in the people profession, Naya has already impressed the team at SHP, according to her colleague who nominated her, with her “high level of maturity, resilience and discipline”. During her time with the company, she has efficiently led a large caseload of employee relations issues and sickness absence management. She takes the time to ensure employees, managers and HR have honest conversations, and has coached managers to achieve better outcomes around performance concerns, regularly receiving praise, including from the company’s directors for her consistently good work.
Amelia Darling, CIPD student member
Head of OD at Barking, Havering & Redbridge Hospitals NHS Trust
Having held her role at the north east London-based trust for the past four years, Amelia has been at the forefront of its response to the pandemic, with its four hospitals facing one of the highest Covid rates in the country and a huge impact on staff. Amelia led a wellbeing programme for more than 9,000 staff, including organising a dedicated ‘thank you week’ in June 2021. According to the trust’s deputy CEO who nominated her, Amelia’s talent has made a “massive difference” to her challenged part of the NHS.
Charlotte Fordyce,CIPD student member
Global head of HR at Triptease
Charlotte was somewhat thrown in at the deep end, having joined travel tech start-up Triptease the week before the UK went into lockdown in March 2020. Since then, she has managed redundancies and furlough, hired and onboarded 60 people, facilitated temporary pay cuts, taken on payroll following the payroll manager’s redundancy, and implemented new HR, recruitment and payroll systems and a benefits plan, plus much more – all in less than two years.
Jake Brown, Assoc CIPD
HR business partner at TK Elevator
Jake has been with TK Elevator for just over a year, and in that time has wowed with his stakeholder management, ability to partner with colleagues and his generalist HR knowledge despite being just 21 years old. Jake has supported projects including two system implementations, a full contract review, a TUPE process and a full piece of OD work, as well as taking on payroll responsibilities after a colleague’s departure despite having no prior knowledge. Jake’s nominator describes him as a “truly exceptional HR talent”.