As part of our 'meet the team' series, we talk to senior HR manager, Tamara Rubery about being adaptable, DIY and running.
Tamara is the senior HR manager at Mewburn Ellis, based in the Manchester office but with a remit covering all the company’s offices in the UK and Munich. Tamara has worked in HR for over 20 years and joined Mewburn Ellis in 2021, having spent over a decade working with NHS and care organisations. “My role is to make sure that all parts of the HR process, from joining to leaving the company, work well and run smoothly,” she explains. “I oversee the team that does that, making sure we support people in both their professional and personal lives.”
Born in Germany, Tamara moved to Manchester when she was six years old and had originally thought of becoming a teacher. “I think I liked the idea of that because I was a bit bossy as a child,” she jokes. “But I also considered a career in IT and studied that at college for two years so nearly went down that route instead.”
“I fell into HR accidentally in the end,” she explains. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I left school and even took a careers questionnaire which said I should be a florist despite the fact I’ve got hay fever!” But, after a temporary four-week admin job with the Pertemps British Gas HR team, Tamara was hooked. “I love it and have a passion for HR now and can’t see myself ever doing anything else. It motivates me and suits my skills but also has such variety.”
The many different hats that come with working in HR was one of the key reasons Tamara decided to join Mewburn Ellis. “One of the things I love most about working in HR is the variety of situations and challenges we have to deal with every day, both the highs and the lows,” she continues. “I’d spent ten years working in and around the NHS, including during the COVID pandemic which involved working directly on the COVID response team and meant a lot of time firefighting and dealing with crises. I found that I was missing a lot of the other aspects HR get involved with so wanted to move to a role where I could pull on my other skills.”
Working at Mewburn Ellis has provided Tamara with an opportunity to look more holistically at the different dynamics and challenges that come with a multi-site company, and work on a range of projects that aim to offer something for everyone. “My role was a new one when I joined,” she says. “HR can be quite transactional in some instances, but with the support of my team, I’ve been able to focus more on the strategic side of things and work on implementing a new HR system that has evolved how we do things for the better and develop our benefits package. I have also had the opportunity to develop a Menopause Policy and work with others in the firm to increase awareness on the topic – I am very proud of the work we have done in this area and think we have removed any taboo from the subject so it is now openly talked about.”
Being able to adapt quickly and handling a range of emotions are also key skills Tamara has developed over the course of her career. “In the HR team we probably deal with a lot more situations than people might assume. Being able to provide emotional support is a really essential part of that. One minute it can be talking to or helping people after happy life events like getting married, having a baby or receiving a promotion, then the next you are helping someone who’s going through a difficult time due to a bereavement or a tough personal situation. It can be an emotional rollercoaster where you have to pivot in a heartbeat.”
A balancing act
One of the most challenging aspects of Tamara’s role therefore, is not only being able to juggle multiple things at once and balance her range of projects, but also making sure she is able to leave work behind at the end of the day. “While there are so many positive elements to being in a HR team, there are also elements which are harder to deal with,” she says. “I’m very fortunate to have a great team around me and we all act as a safety net and support each other to ensure that we don’t carry any of the more emotional matters home with us.”
Outside of the office, Tamara describes herself as “outdoorsy”, with a particular love of running. “I try to run to work at least once a week, when I can find the motivation,” she jokes. “I’ve been recovering from an injury so it’s taking a lot of will power to get back into it, but I always enjoy it once I get out there.” Tamara’s love of running has also led her to sign up for a range of charity pledges, including multiple marathons and even a parachute jump. “I like a challenge and so I keep signing up for charity events then having to figure out how I can train for them afterwards,”, she says. “I’m also a big DIY fan since lockdown where I was trying to find things for myself to do, and I’ve always got a project on the go. I’ve recently built a log store from scratch (with a little help from my dad) so I was very proud of myself!” When Tamara isn’t training for a marathon or doing DIY, her other great passion is spending weekends and holidays with friends and family.
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