Q&A with Angela Hoey, Director of HR at Bord Gáis Energy

Angela Hoey

Angela Hoey is Director of HR at Bord Gáis Energy, part of the Centrica group, a multinational utility company. Bord Gáis Energy have been in operation since 1976 and today provide gas, electricity and home care services to over 730,000 residential and business customers throughout the country. Bord Gáis Energy employ nearly 400 people in their Dublin and Cork offices.

We asked Angela to share her thoughts on HR, her career and the challenges facing her and Bord Gáis Energy.

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HRHQ: Tell us about your career journey and what originally attracted you to a career in HR?

Angela Hoey: Today, I am the Director of HR at Bord Gáis Energy in Ireland However, my career journey began in 1999, when I graduated with a BA (Hons) Business Studies from Glasgow Caledonian University.  I started working in a regional operation role and quickly realised the way to achieve optimum performance was through creating the right culture of learning, development and growth mindset for teams and individuals to perform at their best in their role.  The creation of this culture is central to the successful achievement of business strategy.

I’ve always tried to focus on helping employees be their best at work, not necessarily from an efficiency perspective, but by being themselves, encouraging people to take opportunities to grow in their different roles.  This is what attracted me into studying further for a Postgraduate Diploma in Human Resource Management from Strathclyde University. With the diploma under my belt, I moved into a regional Learning & Development role.  From there, I’ve worked in various areas of HR, for example, Organisational Design and Development, Employee Relations, and Recruitment, across a variety of industries and companies. This broadened my knowledge, network and skills in HR in different industries and cultures.  I enjoy the variety that working in a generalist role brings and have worked with some fantastic teams over the years.  For me, teamwork and collaboration are key elements of success.

HRHQ: What has been the most significant change in the HR world since you began your career?

AH: I think it’s the focus we have now on Health and Wellbeing. There is much more focus on bringing your whole self to work, and more emphasis on initiatives which promote inclusion and diversification of talent.  Not to say that this wasn’t thought about before, but I think the difference now is that there’s more consideration on the external factors which help colleagues strive in their professional lives.

I think people have generally made changes over the last few years, particularly since the pandemic, which have shifted mindsets and how we think about work.  There’s a real opportunity for the HR industry to work with businesses to embrace hybrid working and further explore ways to be more flexible as we move into a new era.

HRHQ: What is the most important HR challenge facing you currently?

AH: I work for Bord Gáis Energy, one of Ireland’s leading energy and services company, well established since 1976. For me, the most important challenge at the moment is how to create the right culture within an already successful business, developing a psychologically safe place and growth mindset to help us achieve our future growth ambitions.  There are elements of this which are already in play and colleagues are welcoming the open conversations and development, but there’s more to do in this area.

Culture plays such a vital role in the success of any organisation, from attrition levels to development of top talent.  I think providing the appropriate framework for career growth opportunities in this evolving market will be a key factor in attracting, developing and retaining diverse talent.

HRHQ: From an employee’s perspective, what does a great HR service mean?

AH: From an employee’s perspective, I think it’s important to not only have the functional capability to self-serve but to have a resource which gives you the best possible employee experience. The stage of your journey within a business doesn’t matter; whether you’re a new joiner, someone who is developing or being promoted or someone who is almost at the end of the employee lifecycle, it’s important you’re treated with respect, in an open and honest environment.

HRHQ: How should HR professionals design their career and how much can you realistically career plan?

AH: I’d say it’s important to be honest about your skills, knowledge and strengths in particular areas.  It’s difficult to plan your career unless you decide early on that you want to specialise in a particular area, for example Employee Relations, or Reward.  I think it’s important to maintain a focus of where you want to be, but agile enough that you can make a switch if needed.  When I first started, my ambition was to be involved in strategic workforce planning and organisational development But only through keeping an open mind and creating or taking opportunities was I able to achieve that.  And then you move on to something else!

HRHQ: What advice would you give a person at the start of their HR career?

AH: My best advice is to do what you love.  HR is a challenging role, whatever form it takes, whether specialised or generalist.  HR is pivotal in an organisation and with that comes responsibility, relationship building and management, resilience and leadership, often managing conflicting priorities.  I think being in an area which allows you to learn, develop and grow is vital.  It’s an ever-changing landscape, however there is a risk it will become repetitive from an employee lifecycle perspective, so keep an open mind about your career.

HRHQ: What soft skills do you believe are key to progressing your career?

AH: Relationship building is a key component of a successful HR Director, so it’s vital you can communicate well. Listening, I mean properly listening, reading between the lines and actively supporting people where you can, is really important.  Having and maintaining an open mind is essential. You’ll meet and manage all sorts of conundrums in the world of HR!

HRHQ: What experiences should HR professionals try to get as they build up their CV?

AH: As you work through your HR career, it’s important to be commercially focussed.  You will no doubt come across people in any organisation who for one reason or another, perhaps don’t love HR as much as you do, so there’s an element of winning hearts and minds of colleagues.  To do this, my advice would be to understand the business objectives. If you’re aware of the challenges facing your operational teams and you’re prepared to learn about areas which you may think aren’t necessary – but in essence they are – you will thrive. As a HR professional you’re an enabler to operational colleagues achieving the aims of the business.

HRHQ: What are you most proud of in your career?

AH: I’m most proud of designing and delivering strategic frameworks in different organisations which fundamentally shifted the world of work for those companies.  At Bord Gáis Energy, we are committed to nurturing and developing an inclusive culture of equal opportunities where all colleagues can thrive. Diversity and inclusion is at the heart of our organisation’s strategy, from the people we work with, to the people we serve. I am proud to be supporting the organisation in the journey of achieving an inclusive and sustainable future for colleagues. We recently published our first gender pay report and it’s important to me, and to us as a business, that we continue on our journey to build a more inclusive company and eradicate the gender pay gap over time.

HRHQ: What do you think the Future of Work is?

AH: I think there are a number of things to take into consideration for the future of work:

  • embracing hybrid working is essential in order to attract the best, most diverse talent for your organisation
  • creating an agile employee experience, promoting diversity and inclusion, health and wellbeing, encouraging people to bring their whole selves to work, managing work-life balance and creating opportunities for development
  • utilising the most effective technology to enable colleagues to deliver for their customers

HRHQ: Many thanks Angela for taking part and we wish you and Bord Gáis Energy the very best for the future.