Interview with – Lindsey Buckley, HR & Development Director at 7 Day Catering Ltd.

Posted By Martin Jones

24 July 2015 - 14:18pm

Who are you and what is your current job role?
Lindsey Buckley HR & development director at 7 Day Catering Ltd – independent contract caterer

How did you get to this position…what was the pathway and what did you do before?
I initially joined 7 Day Catering seven years ago as their training manager. I had been with them just under a year when the personnel manager moved on. I was already CIPD qualified and also had relevant HR experience so I badgered the directors to give me the opportunity to head up the HR and development function from my second year. I am confident they gave me the opportunity based on capability but I do sometimes think it was also to keep me quiet! In recognition of my ability I was then appointed HR director in 2008 and I now focus on driving the strategy for recruitment, retention and development in a multi-site and very fast paced organisation. The role requires me to operate as a strategic business partner to maximise the potential of individuals, teams and the organisation.
Prior to 7 Day Catering I worked in learning and development roles with Aramark and Catering Alliance.
Prior to that, straight after graduating from university I worked for Whitbread, working in their Beefeater Restaurants and Premier Inn hotels divisions. I joined a management development programme and after two years was given my first role as General Manager. During the latter five years I was GM for businesses in Leicester and Nottingham. It was working in these operational roles that developed my commercial acumen which is most definitely beneficial in my HR role in the competitive contract catering industry.

What are the challenges in this job?
The biggest challenge will always be to ensure the HR and development function has real business impact. Of course we have to ensure we have robust systems and processes but we cannot forget that we are part of the bigger business team that must deliver against business objectives. 7 Day Catering has very clear business goals around the three pillars of sales, retention and profit and HR must deliver on objectives aligned with those. In the service industry we cannot afford to compromise – to ensure we consistently deliver on our promises to our customers, we must have the right people, available at the right time, delivering quality products and services. At 7 Day Catering we have established a credible HR and development function which in partnership with the operations team has reduced staff turnover, increased engagement levels and has dramatically improved attendance levels. It also goes without saying that as a contractor we often have to achieve all this with and through people that have TUPE transferred and as such did not even choose to work with 7 Day Catering – but we take that in our stride and run well designed onboarding processes. It is extremely rewarding when a TUPE transfer manager praises us for making them feel part of the team so quickly.

Who has influenced you the most in your career and why?
I can’t name anyone specific as I am fortunate enough to have worked with many great people – both in general business and within HR. I have and still work with some highly inspiring people who are dedicated to their cause – the management team at 7 Day Catering are so passionate and energetic , it is really infectious! I make sure that I maximise the positive influences to enthuse and inspire me. My team will tell you I am not very good at standing still, I am always looking for the next ‘project’!

What do you do to switch off?
I have no dramatic hobbies – and actually I quite often think I should take something up just to seem more interesting – however I have a fabulous social life with friends and family and thoroughly enjoy great food and wine and exotic holidays! Don’t we all?! I am an avid reader although I am quite interested in crime thrillers so I am not sure that is classed as relaxing!

Any Pearls of Wisdom or strategies for success that you would like to share?
Success is measured in many different ways, so firstly we all need to personally define what success ‘looks like’. In terms of achieving what you want whether that is work related or personal, it’s usually the result of having a plan, followed by lots of hard work and determination. Opportunity doesn’t often just land in your lap, you have to influence it. Consider everyone that you meet as a potential future contact. Treat everyone with respect as you never know when you might bump into them in the future.
Primarily though , focus on achieving what really matters to you personally.

Any comments on current legislation / trends in your marketplace?
Back in November the government announced what it called ‘the most radical reform to the employment law system for decades’ – we will have to see how this in fact plays out as time progresses, but we could face different challenges as a consequence. Even in our team at 7 Day Catering we debate how certain decisions will manifest themselves. Will the reforms/proposals increase business confidence and remove obstacles for recruitment as planned or will they in reality have indirect consequences which will take up more time and cost more money to handle?
I am also sure pensions auto enrolment is on the mind of most senior HR practitioners. At 7 Day Catering we will see 2012 as a year of planning with our actual staging date currently planned for 2013. This will be a large scale project for us, as although we do offer a defined contribution scheme we do not currently have a large take up.
Of course in contract catering we are forecasting yet another tight year. We still have many clients who are looking for cost savings and that coupled with the ever rising cost of food and the price customers are prepared to pay will dictate that we will have to keep a tight focus on our margins. To counteract this we must therefore maximise the opportunity for marketing and merchandising to encourage steady growth in sales. 7 Day Catering has appointed a new Marketing Manager to lead this project forward in 2012.

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