28th July 2022

My life as… an HR manager

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Thinking of a career in HR? In the latest instalment in our series providing an insight into life and careers in the publishing industry, we’re speaking with Igloo Books’ HR manager Beckie Hart.

I’m in charge of… the full employee lifecycle – from recruitment right through to exit interviews and everything in between.

Day to day this could include payroll amendments, employment policies, managing benefit administration. I take care of our most valuable assets: the employees! Ensuring that they have everything they need to perform their duties and ensure that the work environment is a thriving and healthy place. I’m the voice for the employees. I want everybody to be able to enhance their skills and create a career path with us.

My first task of the day… Making a coffee. Always first on my list.

Then my priority list! I have to be highly organised because with a lot of HR stuff you’re being reactive. It’s important to make sure that the day-to-day vital things like my reporting, my payroll, my meetings, and administrative tasks aren’t pushed to the wayside by something that might suddenly crop up. So I try to get all my ducks in a row early. I like to lay down my anchor and know what I’ve got lined up for the day. Until things inevitably do crop up!

The thing I look forward to the most… The positive sides of HR! Career progression, helping people reach their goals, and supporting people with their personal and professional lives.

One of my favourite parts of the job is when I offer the role to candidates during the recruitment process. You’re the first person that knows – so when you tell them you hear that complete elation in their voice. You’re making a huge difference to someone’s life.

The leaving can also be a positive. Being at Bonnier for 6 years, naturally I’ve seen a lot of people both start and leave, and it’s nice to see how people have progressed and used the skills they’ve developed here for their future roles. It makes me feel like a proud mum sometimes!

What nobody else knows about my job… It’s a tricky one to answer! A lot of things in my job are naturally confidential, so people don’t know the majority of it!

But there’s a lot of external-facing parts of the role that people probably don’t realise is done by HR.  I’ve had many opportunities at Igloo to go into schools and colleges and do career roundtables. It’s almost like speed dating: the students will have 10 minutes to speak with firefighters, police officers, etc., and we’ve been trying to break in to show them that there’s a world for them in publishing too. The amount of people at secondary school who you meet and they say: ‘I’ve never thought about this!’ It’s about demystifying the industry. You want to hear them say: “Oh I want to be an editor” or “I want to be a designer…”

I’m so adamant about breaking down the barriers. Growing up, I hadn’t even thought about publishing. I hadn’t a clue how a book was created. “The publishing fairies do that – it isn’t done by humans!” No-one I knew had a job in publishing. At Igloo, we’re actually creating a handbook about the lifecycle of a book so people understand the process.

How I got the job… I just sort of fell into it. It was very natural!

Initially I started out in food manufacturing, three days a week as office experience alongside my college. And then I found a real mentor in the head of HR there. I thought ‘this is for me’: I’m very personable; I like to know what’s going on at the ground level and communicating it upwards; I love being organised. She offered me a job in HR full time alongside my business management evening degree.

I joined Bonnier in 2016. I was an avid bookworm growing up. I’ll read a book in two days. I’ll just look at it, and it’s done! So the Bonnier job married the two: an HR role I wanted alongside a side passion. It ticked all the boxes.

I was hired by the HR director. I remember bringing along a thick, organised notebook – it was like my personal bible! My whole life was in that book. She really liked that. I came in and reorganised everything and created all the HR admin processes. I couldn’t imagine ever leaving publishing now.

My advice for anyone breaking in… Don’t give up! There’s always going to be a publishing house that is interested in the skills you have. Find out where your passion is. Is it editorial? Are you design-focused? Do you want to work on licensing? Work that out and try and get as much experience as you can.

Try and find a mentor. Reach out on LinkedIn. Say “Look, I see that you’re an editor, a publisher, or whatever… What sort of skills do I need to improve on? How did you get into the industry? Is there anyone you can help connect me to who can help me break in?”

Make sure that once a week, you’re checking the careers pages of all the major publishing houses – especially ours! – and show how keen you are! And consider everything. I’ve seen a lot of people come into publishing through support functions – sales support, reception, admin-level roles – in the hope that they can learn on the job and eventually transfer over to their ideal role.

And finally, try not to get beaten down by how competitive it is. If you show that you’re a passionate, willing person, you’ll be seen. We’re doing all we can to help people break in, and to give people from all backgrounds the opportunity to enter the publishing sector.

The path I might have chosen… I always wanted to be a police officer when I was younger. I like having those rules and processes to follow – what’s right and wrong, and what’s morally correct.

For those looking to learn more about other roles in the industry, you can also take a look at interviews with colleagues in audio, rights, international sales, and editorial. And don’t forget to check out our Instagram @Inside_BBUK