Loving what I do in work, as well as loving what I do outside work and having a really good support within the business has got me to a place where I’m feeling very lucky – Suzie Lambert
When Suzie joined Petroplan, in March 2013, she was just 18 months out of her master’s degree. It all started with a leap of faith – ‘Even though I hadn’t worked in HR before, they recognised that they could train me up and that I had other things to offer in the role.’
She fell right in the deep end from the beginning, with Petroplan introducing a new HR system at the time and her role varying from crafting carefully worded letters to reporting and basic coding (!), she had to learn quickly and immerse herself in all things HR.
Through her can-do attitude and natural curiosity, she gained her seniors’ trust early on and was allowed room to grow and discover more about the business; the people, the needs, the priorities. ‘It was a role that touched every aspect of HR, but also every bit of the business at every level.’
As part of Petroplan’s L&D programme, Suzie was offered to do a CIPD qualification course right at her interviewing stage; 6 months in her new role, and having acquired some practical knowledge, she decided to go for it; she was eligible for a CIPD level 7 diploma – ‘Every weekend would see me studying, learning, trying to absorb all this information so I was ready to pass the exams.’ And she did – with merits and distinctions!
While Suzie was growing professionally, Petroplan was growing along; halfway through her CIPD course and with the addition of a more junior member to the HR team, to cover Petroplan’s expansion needs, Suzie gets promoted to HR Advisor and takes on much of the day to day running of the HR department. Soon after that, Suzie gets a further promotion and becomes Petroplan’s HR Manager.
Having conquered that professional summit, it was time to start planning a personal one. With a slightly difficult start and a lot of support from Petroplan, Suzie becomes a mum for the first time in 2017. The birth of her first child sees her going on maternity leave and questioning her return to work. But Petroplan’s flexible working policy, offers her and her family an alternative solution, suitable to her new lifestyle.
‘The best decision I made was saying ‘yes’ to giving Petroplan two mornings a week after my son was born.’
Suzie gradually increased her hours with Petroplan until the birth of her second child in 2019. With the same high level of support from Petroplan, she came back from her second maternity leave and is now still at two and a half day weeks. This allows her to be with her children while getting involved with very interesting HR projects at Petroplan, like the roll out of a new HR system, the design and implementation of a global well being programme or the editing and circulation of Petroplan’s monthly People News. Suzie also finds time to volunteer with her local church – a precious commitment that so agrees with her character.
‘I feel so fortunate to have this balance, where I have my family life, my volunteering life and my work life…and I give a good amount of time to each thing.’
When discussing the future, she feels hopeful and optimistic; she loves the balance that she’s been allowed to achieve and is confident that, with her children growing up, she’ll still be able to enjoy professional progression without missing out on the dear family moments.
‘One thing I've learned in the past five years is that I don't have to give every waking minute and I don't have to work full time in order to grow a career.’
The flexibility, support and understanding she’s experienced so far has made her want to take a personalised approach to her interactions with the Petroplan people. As Global HR Manager, she has to deal with many difficult situations in people related matters and find a resolution which will suit both the individual and the business.
‘If you take the time to understand what the individual needs and what the business needs in detail, you can start to come up with a solution that works well for both; we won’t get it right every time…but it’s important to be honest with people and take time to explain and get them involved in the decisions.’
Her biggest lesson learnt so far and the advice she’d give to anyone starting out would be to set clear boundaries; to love the work you do but not let it creep into your personal life. To find something you love to do outside of work which will allow you to recharge and clear your mind.
Suzie loves people, words, and exciting new projects; she loves her job, her family and her volunteering work.
Suzie is an achiever, a thinker, and an objective advisor; she’s a professional, a working mum, a giving individual and Petroplan is her home!