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A brew with Catherine MacDonald

Head of People, list maker, and electric bike enthusiast.

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Catherine recently joined STMGRP as Head of People.

Join us as we discuss pizza, the power of lists, and why integrity is key to a career in HR.

Welcome, Catherine! To get us started, why don’t you tell us about the experience that prepared you for this role?

I’ve been in HR for longer than I’d like to mention!

But I’ve also worked in a number of industries, at Tesco, Pizza Hut, McCann and a property development / strategic land company.

I also worked for myself for a bit after having my kids, as a HR Consultant. So quite a mix!

What brought you back to agencies?

I like working in a SME – because I think you can really get under the skin of the organisation. Whereas at somewhere like Tesco, which is huge, you can’t really implement as much change, because you’re a small cog in a humongous machine.

In an SME like this, you’re closer to the action, and can really see the impact of the things you’ve put in place.

What were your first impressions of working at STMGRP?

People have just been so open, helpful, and friendly. That struck me straight away.

Now that you’re here, what do you want to get stuck into straight away?

The first thing I’ve got to do is a bit of recruitment. The second is making a list of all the things I’ve got to do, and putting them in priority order, because there’s quite a lot on my list!

But you can’t boil the ocean, as they say. So I’m going to have to build a plan for 2023_4 first.

What’s your go to productivity trick?

I quite like to have:

  1. A list for the day (I’m a bit of a list-maker)
  2. A half-hour walk in the middle of the day, if I can. It just gives me a minute to press pause, refresh, and revisit my list for the afternoon!

What one quality do you need to become successful?

I think it’s hard work and drive. I don’t think anything comes to you without hard work, does it?

And in HR, I think you need to have a lot of integrity. You need to think about the right things for the organisation, and be commercial, in order to have the biggest impact in your role.

You asked for one quality, didn’t you? I think I’ve said about 25!

What alternative career route would you have taken if you didn’t do this?

If I’d had my time again, I’d have liked to have been a lawyer, I think.

In HR you have to have a knowledge of law and its impact, and I’ve partnered with quite a lot of lawyers in my career, and worked as a consultant with an employment law company.

And I just found it fascinating the way they were able to draw on their knowledge, and then put it into practical application. I found it quite inspiring actually.

What do you do in your spare time?

Well, we built our own house – so that took up quite a lot of our lives!

And then I’ve been married for 24 years, I have got two girls; I like going to the gym; my favourite lockdown purchase was my electric bike – and living in a place where there are a lot of hills, an electric bike is genius.

What does ‘perpetual thinking’ mean to you?

I think it’s about having an enquiring mind.

For me, when you’re in a standalone role, it’s really important to look outside as well as in, and have a really strong network of people that do similar jobs to you, who you can bounce ideas off.

You know, “I’m thinking about this? Have you done it? Did it crash and burn? What would you suggest to make it work better?”

Having another perspective like that is invaluable for me.

Favourite artist, place, and dessert? Oh, and pizza – as you worked at Pizza Hut!

Artist – Matisse.

Place – South of France.

Dessert – Pavlova. With lots of cream and lots of strawberries.

Pizza – Pepperoni and chilli.

Finally, what is your brew of choice?

It’s always a decaffeinated cappuccino. The coffee machine in the office does a really decent one, so I’m actually very impressed with that!

Want to share a brew with us?

Whether you’re looking for a job, or would like us to do one for you, get in touch today.

Catherine recently joined STMGRP as Head of People.

Join us as we discuss pizza, the power of lists, and why integrity is key to a career in HR.

Welcome, Catherine! To get us started, why don’t you tell us about the experience that prepared you for this role?

I’ve been in HR for longer than I’d like to mention!

But I’ve also worked in a number of industries, at Tesco, Pizza Hut, McCann and a property development / strategic land company.

I also worked for myself for a bit after having my kids, as a HR Consultant. So quite a mix!

What brought you back to agencies?

I like working in a SME – because I think you can really get under the skin of the organisation. Whereas at somewhere like Tesco, which is huge, you can’t really implement as much change, because you’re a small cog in a humongous machine.

In an SME like this, you’re closer to the action, and can really see the impact of the things you’ve put in place.

What were your first impressions of working at STMGRP?

People have just been so open, helpful, and friendly. That struck me straight away.

Now that you’re here, what do you want to get stuck into straight away?

The first thing I’ve got to do is a bit of recruitment. The second is making a list of all the things I’ve got to do, and putting them in priority order, because there’s quite a lot on my list!

But you can’t boil the ocean, as they say. So I’m going to have to build a plan for 2023_4 first.

What’s your go to productivity trick?

I quite like to have:

  1. A list for the day (I’m a bit of a list-maker)
  2. A half-hour walk in the middle of the day, if I can. It just gives me a minute to press pause, refresh, and revisit my list for the afternoon!

What one quality do you need to become successful?

I think it’s hard work and drive. I don’t think anything comes to you without hard work, does it?

And in HR, I think you need to have a lot of integrity. You need to think about the right things for the organisation, and be commercial, in order to have the biggest impact in your role.

You asked for one quality, didn’t you? I think I’ve said about 25!

What alternative career route would you have taken if you didn’t do this?

If I’d had my time again, I’d have liked to have been a lawyer, I think.

In HR you have to have a knowledge of law and its impact, and I’ve partnered with quite a lot of lawyers in my career, and worked as a consultant with an employment law company.

And I just found it fascinating the way they were able to draw on their knowledge, and then put it into practical application. I found it quite inspiring actually.

What do you do in your spare time?

Well, we built our own house – so that took up quite a lot of our lives!

And then I’ve been married for 24 years, I have got two girls; I like going to the gym; my favourite lockdown purchase was my electric bike – and living in a place where there are a lot of hills, an electric bike is genius.

What does ‘perpetual thinking’ mean to you?

I think it’s about having an enquiring mind.

For me, when you’re in a standalone role, it’s really important to look outside as well as in, and have a really strong network of people that do similar jobs to you, who you can bounce ideas off.

You know, “I’m thinking about this? Have you done it? Did it crash and burn? What would you suggest to make it work better?”

Having another perspective like that is invaluable for me.

Favourite artist, place, and dessert? Oh, and pizza – as you worked at Pizza Hut!

Artist – Matisse.

Place – South of France.

Dessert – Pavlova. With lots of cream and lots of strawberries.

Pizza – Pepperoni and chilli.

Finally, what is your brew of choice?

It’s always a decaffeinated cappuccino. The coffee machine in the office does a really decent one, so I’m actually very impressed with that!

Want to share a brew with us?

Whether you’re looking for a job, or would like us to do one for you, get in touch today.

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