Read how Janet Scotcher successfully made a career move to specialise in HR
Janet Scotcher is the Group Director of HR and Transformation at Cambridge Assessment, a £450m turnover not for profit organisation which designs and delivers assessments to over 8 million learners in more than 170 countries.
Seven years ago Janet decided she wanted to make a professional move to specialise in HR. Having progressed her career within management and director roles in the NHS, she wanted to open the door to new career challenges while still making real use of the experience she had already gained. Having worked hard to complete a post-graduate CIPD qualification to support the transition, Janet knew that despite this, and her transferable skills, finding her first dedicated HR position without any formal experience could be a challenge.
Janet was able to secure her first HR role through existing contacts. With timing that felt like ‘serendipity’ to Janet, Hinchingbrooke Hospital were recruiting within their HR team and because they knew of Janet and her background, they recognised the strength her NHS knowledge and transferable skills would bring to the role. Janet spent two years at the hospital, progressing to HR Business Partner and then Deputy Director of HR. From there she went on to join the Wellcome Sanger Institute as Director of HR and OD, a position she stayed in for three years.
It was Janet’s current position at Cambridge Assessment which came about as a result of the ongoing relationship she had developed with Pure’s Director and lead HR consultant Caroline Batchelor. When Caroline was recruiting for an interim Group Director of HR at the organisation, she contacted Janet about the role. As a temporary appointment, Janet admits it was an opportunity she may have dismissed if it had been anyone else who had approached her, but one she considered and went for because she trusted Caroline’s judgement.
Once appointed, the interim position quickly evolved to Janet staying with the organisation and progressing into a more senior role. Keen to implement a culture change, a new Chief Executive at Cambridge Assessment recognised Janet’s skills and experience and she moved to take on the organisation’s transformation portfolio. From there she was promoted to Group Director of HR and Transformation, a position which has seen her continue focusing on the ongoing development of the organisation’s inclusive culture.
Caroline said: “I knew Janet’s experience of taking organisations on journeys of cultural change meant she would be able to bring great business acumen to the role. While I didn’t know how the role would evolve, it soon became apparent that the organisation liked what she did and could see the value she could add with her leadership style, pragmatic approach and experience of leading HR transformation and change.”
Since she decided to make the career transition into HR, Janet has built up an ongoing relationship with Caroline and the team at Pure. Having first met at a CIPD event, Janet and Caroline stayed in contact through Pure’s calendar of events and networking opportunities dedicated to HR professionals.
Janet said: “I don’t go to many networking events but I always felt the ones organised by Pure were worthwhile. They have helped me to network in the HR community and without these contacts I wouldn’t necessarily have been able to find the career path I have. Caroline has also helped me to navigate my HR career journey, acting as a coach, sounding board and a source of support. It was actually at one of Pure’s HR dinner events that I was first identified as a potential candidate for the role at Cambridge Assessment, because I was seated next to the organisation’s HR Director.”
Caroline has also worked with Janet as a client, helping her to recruit new HR team members at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and at Cambridge Assessment. Plus Janet has sponsored delegates on Pure’s Women’s Leadership Programme, helping them to progress their own careers and move into more senior roles.
Janet said: “As an established and locally recognised brand, Cambridge Assessment is in the great position of being able to attract a lot of candidates. Therefore having additional support from an experienced consultant who understands the importance of finding the right fit, and who has taken the time to really get to know the culture of our organisation, is extremely helpful. That is the difference I have always found in working with Pure, they really want to find the right people for the role and they want to add value and do a really good job.”
Caroline has also invited Janet to share her HR career journey and her tips on taking a strategic approach to culture change at an upcoming HR Development Programme event on 25 September.
Janet added: “My story shows that career changes are possible if people are willing to be brave and have faith in their abilities and in their transferable skills. I could see how the change management experience I had already gained would suit the shifting world of HR. It has evolved from being seen as the ‘fluffy stuff’ to a core element of business success and something which has a real impact on the bottom line. People management is now being considered from a broader perspective and making changes to organisational culture has become more imperative.”
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