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Returning to a Different Business

When HR Business Partner Andreya Ashwell went on family leave, she had no idea how the company would change in her absence. Here she talks about returning to a business transformed – and a new role, Head of Operations.

Returning to work after maternity leave can be a daunting process, especially when the business has doubled in sized upon your return.

Within my 10 months of family leave, RML had gone from a business with 4 sites and 100 employees to 7 sites and headcount of over 200.

However, I was fortunate enough to return to a company that can recognise opportunities and refresh the skills I have accumulated from my time spent as HR Business Partner. This marked a role change to Head of Operations, in which I am significantly more involved in the overall workings of the business rather than a specialised area.

One of the initial challenges I faced was understanding the now extended business and ensuring the separate companies could be integrated into one. Thankfully, I have had the unwavering support of the expanded senior leadership team to answer any questions that can further my knowledge. Despite the team’s busy schedules, time has always been made to educate me on the areas of the business they specialise in.

A key area of my role is being proactive rather than reactive in planning and decision making to avoid issues before they are able to come to the surface. Through focusing on long term strategic objectives, a main priority is setting clear steps that we can take as a business to grow and protect our brand.

Holding a thorough understanding of the daily operations within the business is now essential for me and has created the opportunity for me to create more in-depth working relationships.
Despite working in HR requiring approachability and the ability to create effective working relationships, my current role has allowed me to go beneath the surface and have a deeper understanding of my colleague’s roles.

It is clear that nothing in this business stands still and there’s a lot of positivity within RML about the journey ahead.