A human resources expert has crystallised a 30-year career in HR to offer her expertise for local small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) in Solihull.
Erica Burke was born in Leamington Spa and worked in HR in her first ever professional role, before working in senior positions around the UK for a variety of national and international organisations.
Now she has launched The HR Dept Solihull, based in the locality and offering outsourced HR advice and support to SMEs in the area.
With a territory extending from Castle Bromwich in the north of the borough to Hockley Heath in the south Ms Burke said she was looking forward to getting to know her local business community again.
“It’s fabulous to be working locally,” she said. “I know the area pretty well, even though I’ve worked in London a lot, and I’m excited about getting to know the SME community around Solihull.”
Ms Burke is a former governor at Lode Heath School, where one of her two sons is currently a Year 11 pupil at the school. The other has recently started an apprenticeship with a Solihull-based domestic fireplace business.
She moved back to the Midlands from London several years ago, partly so that she could care for her ill father, who sadly died from dementia earlier this year.
Since then, she has taken stock of her career and, in September this year, found an opportunity for a new kind of role with The HR Dept.
“I once gave lectures to small businesses,” she said, “and at the end of each session I used to have a queue of SME owners waiting to ask questions about their people issues.
“It was clear even then that there was great appeal for bespoke HR advice and support for SME owners but I was never in a position to deliver it.
“Setting up The HR Dept is the perfect thing to do at this point in my career – I can run my own business, with an established structure, working closely with business owners in the area I call home.
Although I’ve not run my own business in this way before, I have spent many years being part of corporate leadership teams, working alongside very senior people who are running medium and large commercial organisations. So I’m aware of all the aspects that go into running a business.
“Having said that, I’ve never been out there, promoting myself – being assessed by the world, that’s the biggest change.
“I’ve wanted to run my own business for a while. Being in control of my own destiny, having the ability to make decisions, being in charge of what goes on in the company – those are things which really appeal to me.
“I’ve already got lots of ideas of what I want to do with the company, starting off with establishing a great reputation in the local area for providing personalised, pragmatic and practical HR services, then seeing where that takes me.”
And she said that smaller businesses are currently faced with a range of challenges with how they recruit, manage and retain people, with new legislation affecting employment statuses, tribunal action and data protection.
“Modern, up-to-date employment practices, a legally compliant HR framework and putting good structures in place will all play a big role in helping companies not only start up but scale up, as well as preventing and protecting them in case of people problems.
“Owners of small businesses are great at what they specialise in but that’s not usually HR. I love tackling problems and finding solutions, so I can take that headache away from them and leave them to concentrate on running and building their business.”
The HR Dept Solihull is part of the wider HR Dept organisation, a network of 75 franchisees providing services in 112 territories in the UK, Ireland and Australia.
The HR Dept provides high-level experience but at an affordable rate for growing businesses, who can outsource bespoke HR advice and support without needing the budget for an in-house HR team.
Gemma Tumelty, managing director of The HR Dept, said: “It’s great to see someone of Erica’s calibre and experience offering HR services to SMEs in Solihull and the surrounding area. We wish her all the best operating the licence and are sure she will make it a great success.”