Q & A with Mick Hood, HR Director Liberty Steel: Part 1 My first role

by | Jun 12, 2017

I recently had the opportunity to interview Mick Hood, HR Director with Liberty Steel (formerly Tata Steel Europe). For the first in this series of blog posts, I asked him: “Tell us about your first entry level role, what was it and what did you learn from it?”

My first entry level role was as an apprentice within the steel industry. I came in as a very junior member of the team with a lot to learn but it presented great opportunity.

Top Tip: Create a foundation to progress – if you aren’t willing to do the hard yards it is difficult to progress beyond a certain level.

I chose to pursue metallurgy on the apprenticeship pathway up to level 5, very much focused on a professional structure of education, workplace attachments and learning on the job. One big takeaway from my first few years in the world of work was focusing on establishing the tools for the job. I sought to understand policy, the dos and don’ts at work, what really lead to efficiencies in the job role and I did this through my own approach on the job, together with embracing what was a structured apprenticeship scheme.

I took the opportunity to learn about the other functions in the business

I learnt an awful lot in the first few years, and took the opportunity to also learn about the other functions in the business. This pathway put me in good stead when it came to really understanding the business, how it works and what it is really like to be on the shop floor.

By embracing these learnings I was able to move around in very different roles from technical metallurgy positions through to operational roles, research positions, business improvement roles and then finally into HR.

By embracing all the learnings at a very early stage in my career, and seeking to really understand how the business functioned, I am now able to understand the challenges of front line operatives in technical, operational and specialist roles, while now leading the HR function as part of the board of directors.

Embrace learnings and network across every function and level of the business. Click To Tweet

My key learnings:

  • Embrace learnings and network across every function and level of the business.
  • If you aspire to attain a senior role long term there are few roles that are specialists, you must have a broad understanding of the business to sit on a board. Seek to understand each function at every level, including business processes and activities.
  • I learnt the language of the business and spent time doing this. It doesn’t happen by accident and even on a clearly defined training scheme you need to go out in the business and seek out the learnings.

Top Tip: It is hard to be a pure HR person without the commercials and progress beyond middle management. This is the same for any function. Put yourself about in your formative years.

Questions asked by Jonathan Gallie, owner of Your Horizon. 

All views and opinions contained within the article are those of Mick Hood, and are not associated with those of Liberty Steel.