Meet the Mentor | Melanie Beattie , Swagelok | November 2020

Each week we will be publishing an interview with one of our wonderful CAP mentors to highlight their background, experience and expertise, along with relatable insight into past triumphs, failures and the lessons learnt. This week we chat to Melanie Beattie from Swagelok who has a wealth of knowledge within buying, inventory management, finance, import/export, contract management/negotiation, planning, stores management, logistics and all aspects of HR.

Date: Thursday 26 November 2020

Tell us about your career to date and did you envision this is where you would be?

I have had a very varied career to date which I am very grateful for. I studied Business at University, which gave me lots of options for potential career paths. I started out in a career in procurement with a small IT Broker in Warrington as a buyer in 2004. I then Joined a large global organisation called Fujitsu within their IT Services division. During my 7 year career with Fujitsu I took on a variety of roles such as Inventory Management, Supplier Operation and Sourcing Specialist. I moved to the island in 2013 having been relocated by Ronaldsway Aircraft Company, to take up the position of Supply Chain Manager. After 5 years with Ronaldsway I evaluated my career choices and wanted to take a different path and follow my passions within HR, which is something I majored in during my Business Degree. I therefore took up the position in January 2018 as HR Manager at Swagelok Limited which has brought with it a whole new outlook on the workplace as well as a fresh set of challenges which I am thoroughly enjoying.

Is this where I envisioned my career would be? The honest answer is no. I studied Business as I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but knew I enjoyed working in an office environment having done summer jobs with Royal and Sun Alliance. I did not expect to have had so many wonderful opportunities and so many varied roles, but it has been an exciting ride and I have loved every minute. Lots more adventures to come!

Given your role and experience,  what kind of advice and expertise could you offer a mentee who has signed up to the Chamber Advisory platform?  (write about your key areas of expertise rather than generic advice)

Having had such a varied career myself from buying, inventory management, finance, import/export, contract management/negotiation, planning, stores management, logistics and all aspects of HR. I feel I can offer a very diverse set of advice. I am also very down to earth and approachable so happy to field any questions that come my way and if I don’t know the answer I would be happy to help my mentee find it, whether that be through researching or through my own network.

What motivates you ?

I love a challenge and strive to do a good job at whatever I am working on. I also love to see others do well in their careers also, so very much enjoy working with my team as a coach and mentor (and wider colleagues) to help them realise their potential and ambitions.

What is your biggest success and how did you achieve it?

Having changed careers into HR in 2018 I wanted to follow up my degree with CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) Level 7 and gain greater theoretical understanding of HR. Not only was it a success completing my Level 7 studies whilst pregnant with my son (morning sickness nearly got the better of me at one point). The icing on the cake was being granted Chartered Fellowship by CIPD in recognition of whole career and experience to date. I feel I achieved this through hard work, determination and gingernuts for the sickness!

Tell us about your biggest failure and what you learnt from that experience?

The one that sticks in my mind from a work perspective was a high profile error whilst being the team manager of buyers at Fujitsu. The houses of parliament offices were being refurbished and Fujitsu has secured the contract to carry out the work. It was therefore my teams responsibility to procure the hardware required which included desktops and monitor screens. We had failed to identify from our supplier backlog reports that the monitor screens were on backorder, and would not be delivered in time for the grand opening of these new offices. By the time I identified this it was too late to rectify and my senior managers had to step in and gain me some supply from elsewhere to avoid Fujitsu looking bad on such a high profile contract.  

I learnt from this experience that I should communicate more effectively with my team and also employ some project management skills and techniques to my work. It also taught me not to try and shoulder too much on my own, I feel at this point in my career I had something to prove. However, I had a very supportive manager who would have coached me through this had I asked.

How do you balance your work and home life?

This has been a major adjustment for me in the last 12 months, having had my son in September 2019 and returning to work in March 2019 just as the COVID-19 pandemic was surging. I am in a very fortunate position to be able to flex my hours which enables me to finish work earlier in the day, pick my son up and still leaves me time to cook the evening meal and sort packed lunches etc for the following day. I also set myself a strict rule of “no work unless it’s urgent”. With technology being so efficient now and emails being on our phones it is easy to be sucked into working around the clock.

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would that be?

Be mindful of the here and now and enjoy it. I feel when you are younger you are so focused on the next progression/promotion you lose sight of enjoying the moment. Take stock and be thankful.

Did you ever have a mentor and do you have any mentors in your life right now?

I had a line manager at Fujitsu who was very much a natural mentor, and has very much shaped who I am professionally and put me on the road to leadership. I have a lot to thank her for (which I have). This lady was a role model as well as a mentor so It was easy to develop under her leadership, she showed me what good leadership looked like. I currently work for an organisation who are headquartered in the USA and also strongly believe in coaching. We therefore have a professional subscription to an online coaching service called BetterUp. Although this is slightly different from mentorship, this gives me the facility to talk to a coach once a week which is fantastic. This coach often slips into mentorship in helping me find ways to move challenges forwards. I would also say the biggest mentor throughout my life has been my dad. He himself had had a varied career from the army, fire service to airport operations and health and safety. He therefore has lots of practical advice and understands your work challenges and often talks through how he may have faced something similar in the past.

If you wish to seek advice from Melanie, you can reach her by setting up a mentee profile and connecting via the Chamber Advisory Platform