Finding your voice – HR:4UK’s Managing Director Angela Clay on inspiring women in business
As we prepare to celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March, now is the perfect time to recognise the achievements of our own Managing Director, Angela Clay.
Angela, who took up her current role in October 2015, joined the business in January 2013 as an adviser and is the first woman to serve on HR:4UK’s board of directors.
Originally from South Africa, she left Johannesburg for the UK in the 1990s where she studied part time whilst working full time with a young family, ultimately training as a solicitor specialising in employment law with a legal practice in Northamptonshire. She said: “I enjoyed my job as a solicitor but the legal landscape had started to change. Employment Tribunals’ fees were going to be introduced and tribunals were expected to fall off a cliff, so I decided to look for something else. As an employment solicitor, HR seemed the obvious sideways move.”
Although Angela came to HR:4UK as an HR adviser, her legal background and keen interest in business development soon led to her taking a wider, more strategic role.
Just three months after arriving at the Hinckley head office, she was promoted to Operations Director, playing an integral part in promoting and growing what is a family business alongside the company’s founder and then managing director Peter Abraham.
She said: “Since joining HR:4UK my role has continued to evolve so that I’m no longer only providing advice but also helping to take the firm in a new direction.
“As MD I see my job as building on Peter’s achievements in establishing the company as a major player in HR consultancy services, but I’m also making changes to our business culture. We now have two women board members and most of our team of 14 are female.
“My vision for the future is, of course, to grow the business, but more specifically to expand the help we provide to clients in areas such as face to face consultancy and outsourcing.”
As a busy wife and mum, Angela is aware of how difficult it can be to balance the tough demands of managing a business with those of domestic life. She said: “I am fortunate in that I have a very supportive husband who has always encouraged me in what I do.
“Breaking through the glass ceiling isn’t easy. It can be hard for women to implement change and be listened to. It’s still a man’s world which is why it’s so important that women find their voice, not just in business but in life in general.
“Being successful doesn’t necessarily mean going to university and getting a degree. It’s got more to do with having confidence in ourselves and showing what we can do. It’s also about women having courage and standing up for what we believe in.”
While not wishing to generalise, Angela also believes that the “softer” people skills more often associated with women such as empathy, are particularly valuable in an HR environment.
She added: “When advising people on their HR and employment issues it’s always helpful to get an understanding of the person behind the business.
“Once we know more about someone’s personality and their management style, we’re more able to give them tailored advice.
“In any workplace, staff should feel able to talk to their managers about issues which might cause their work performance to suffer. It’s much better for everyone if the employer is made fully aware of the situation and has an opportunity to help, before any serious mistakes are made.”
With HR:4UK continuing to expand its services and grow its team of advisers, Angela is excited about the business’s future.
She said: “A good business leader, male or female, needs the right people – people who are happy to support you in your work. To delegate well, you need to build a team you can trust, which is something we’re proud to have achieved at HR:4UK.”
A qualified employment law solicitor and our managing director, Angela has unparalleled legal expertise and decades of experience and knowledge to draw from. She’s a passionate speaker and writer that loves to keep employers updated with upcoming changes to legislation, and is a regular guest speaker on BBC Leicester Radio.