Meet the team: Cheryl Evans, Business partner and Director of New Dawn Resources

In this latest ‘meet the team’ feature we’re introducing our Director and Business Partner Cheryl Evans.

Cheryl enjoyed many varied roles before joining New Dawn and came to HR later in her career path. However, by 2007 she had earned her HR accreditation at CIPD Level 7 and began her journey as an HR professional. Very much a Yorkshire Lass, Cheryl has built strong relationships with businesses across the region. She understands perfectly the needs and concerns of local people and their businesses. Her hands-on approach with clients often sees her supporting managers in all areas of their business, from performance management, employee engagement and training & development.

Here she shares insights into her early career, how she came to work at NDR and how recent times have evolved the perception of HR professionals.

So Cheryl it’s over to you…

Could you tell us a little about your background before you joined New Dawn Resources.

I was born and raised in and around Huddersfield, so I’m definitely a local girl and a real home bird. After leaving school I decided to go to a local college to train as a hairdresser. I had a pretty varied career before joining NDR, which I’ll elaborate on later. However, the turning point was when I decided to enrol for a degree at university. It wasn’t an easy decision as I had to study part time over 3 years, while still working as a full time HR Manager.  By this time I already had two children aged 7 and 3 years old. I really don’t know how I did it looking back now. I do know that my husband was amazing and really helped us all during that time.

After a varied career in management what attracted you to become an HR practitioner?

I just fell into it really! I started in sales. The chap who oversaw the accounts left and they asked me to take his place. Back then the accounts were created manually. It wasn’t long before I became the accounts manager and was delighted when I received the company’s first computer, which I was able to use for payroll. As I dealt with the company payroll I seemed to become the ‘go to’ person for general HR enquiries. It was a relatively small company, with no formal processes or contracts. So as the company grew I started to get far more involved with staffing issues and recruitment. 

In order to deal with a growing workforce I began to look into how we should be managing our people and that’s really how it all started. It was a real learning curve and I had to research, resource and learn about what we needed as a business. As it evolved so did my position and I undertook the role of personnel manager. 

I was very operational (and bossy) and later became the HR and General Manager. I enjoyed the people aspect and being a problem solver. It can be very rewarding when you know that you can make a difference, whether as the business owner, the manager or even a staff member. I remained at the same company for 22 years, until the recession of 2008 changed everything. The business was hit very hard. We had to make so many changes including cutbacks and of course redundancies. The business managed to limp along until 2011, but then went into liquidation. I really didn’t know what to do next. However, I decided to create my own business that would assist others with their HR issues. During this time I met Sarah and Vanessa, who were looking to expand the team at New Dawn Resources. I collaborated with them for a while, before they asked me to join the team. 

Being an HR Business Partner gives me the opportunity to be that problem solver and support person, but instead of supporting just one company I can do now it for many businesses.

New Dawn Resources client base is very varied. However, what sort of clients and businesses do you personally support and advise?

When I look at my client base it is quite broad. My clients include businesses from so many different sectors, including those in engineering, charities, nurseries and veterinary practices. Learning about each of their business cultures is very  interesting. They all have different needs in terms of how we support them. However, their HR issues, business concerns and frustrations are often very similar.   

Can you give us an insight into your average day at work?

I don’t think we ever have an average day. It’s always so varied. One day I may be be onsite, another day I shall be based in the office where I find myself on ‘Teams’ hosting or attending meetings. Other times I may be out delivering one of our training courses. The weeks certainly go by very fast! I like to start my day with a coffee and have the ‘to do’ list in front of me. It doesn’t always go to plan, as in our job you never know what the day will bring.  

The last 18 months have been incredibly difficult for so many businesses. How did you assist your clients during such a challenging period? 

It really has been an uncertain period. The New Dawn Resources team has seen a huge increase in support needed by our clients. We have spent much of our time reassuring, understanding and supporting all of  them. Whatever they have needed we have made sure we’ve been there and done whatever was required. 

What aspects of your role do you find the most interesting?

I love the variety of my role, I can honestly say there isn’t one area that I don’t enjoy. The most interesting part for me is getting to know the clients, understanding what the business does and how their management team operates and works together.

As a well respected practitioner in your field how do you see HR developing in the future?

For me I think the past 18 months has resulted in business owners seeing the true value of HR. We were there to support and guide through a very difficult time. Businesses have undoubtedly had the opportunity to see how resilient their teams are and where they are most vulnerable. Businesses had to rely on their people, they had to support them and many can now see the importance of looking after their workforce. HR plays an integral part in achieving this. Some of my clients have had to change their way of thinking and as they look to the future their focus is certainly on their people. They are doing this through advanced training, development, while retaining their current employees and attracting new talent. 

What advice would you give to someone starting out in your industry today?

To listen and learn from others and their experiences. HR is all about listening to others. Every one of the NDR team took a different path that led them to HR. We all have our strengths and learn from each other very day. 

After a busy week how do you like to relax with your family and friends?

I spend quite a lot of time in North Yorkshire on weekends away with my husband Richard. We own a caravan, so while away we do a bit of walking (usually to a pub for lunch). Things are changing for me, my son has just joined the navy and my daughter is in her second year at uni. All of a sudden we have an empty nest. I’ve been told I need to get a hobby! Family and friends are really important to me and I love a good old natter with a cuppa (or a glass of fizz).