This International Women’s Day, HR Director, Lizzy Firmin discusses her career, challenges she’s faced and words of wisdom for women starting their career. 

Brief intro on your career and time with Ellisons

I started with Ellisons in February last year, just before the first national lockdown! From an HR perspective, it’s been a challenging but also very rewarding time as I was able to come in and hit the ground running and hopefully give colleagues the support that was needed when faced with such substantial and sudden change. What I truly love about working here is the people themselves, the team we have and the fact that the sky’s the limit! If you’ve got an idea, people want to hear about it and you can then put that idea into practice. Since I started with Ellisons I’ve really focused on leadership development and mental health and wellbeing; both from managers’ and colleagues’ perspectives. These areas were the priority during the first year of the pandemic. We need to support, develop and look after our people.

Background/career history

I’ve worked in HR for over 20 years now, working in many different industries including food manufacturing, marine engineering, law enforcement and logistics. I’ve also worked as a consultant so have experience of professional services. I’ve been in a leadership role for nearly 15 years and have managed large teams in challenging circumstances; all of which I can say I’ve enjoyed and learned a lot from.

Have you ever faced career challenges? How did you overcome these challenges?

I think every profession has its own challenges. Perhaps the one that has influenced me the most to date was marine safety and engineering, where I was the only female around the leadership table for a long time. I needed to hold my own! I went to sea in that role on many occasions, climbed light houses in the middle of the north sea and hitched a ride in a helicopter several times! Working with Rear Admirals, Commodores and Captains was great fun and an experience that certainly shaped my career and my approach to work. So a great challenge, and a fantastic experience.

Any words of wisdom for women starting out in their career?

Do what you enjoy doing! And have fun. Career paths now go sideways and diagonally as well as up. The choice is fantastic and it means you get to decide how you progress.