24 hours with… Kate Higgins head of HR at The Dental Directory

After 15 years of working in Human Resources in the City within the world of finance and investment banking, last year Kate Higgins decided to change the direction of her career path by stepping into a role within the healthcare sector for The Dental Directory. A decision the mum of two says has been both surprising and rewarding in equal measure.

Kate’s day begins on the school run before making a short commute to The Dental Directory’s head office in Witham, Essex. It’s a far cry from the hustle and bustle of travelling into the city – a journey the recently appointed head of Human Resources says she doesn’t miss.

“I know I’m incredibly fortunate to find a role I love within a business I feel so passionately about right on my doorstep.

“Although my commute is short it does give me some time to prepare my thoughts and actions for the day ahead – although I’ve come to realise in HR that you can rarely be prepared for everything the day may throw at you – a realisation that happens to be why I enjoy my job so much.”

Today Kate has a full schedule ahead of her. The first appointment of the day at 8.45am is a meeting with the HR team to discuss plans for the launch of a number of new company initiatives and the creation of an online resource for The Dental Directory’s growing team of approximately 300 employees.

“The last 12 months have been an exciting time for the business with a number of improvements being made and new members of the team being recruited. Because of this it’s vitally important that we continually review our HR processes and the resources available to employees to ensure we offer each member of the team a progressive HR service, the support they need on a day-to-day basis, but also opportunities for career progression.” 

Next, Kate discusses the recruitment strategy with the Head of Engineering and Equipment (the recently created Engineering helpdesk based in Witham).  

“Recruitment is a large part of the HR function at The Dental Directory. We’re always exploring ways to attract, recruit and retain strong professionals due to growth of the business and demand from the new innovations which have been introduced  – such as our recent addition of taking orders for free next day deliver up until 6pm the previous day and expanding our network of business consultants. We’re in an incredibly strong position to attract the cream of the crop.”

After lunch Kate and the rest of the management team meet for the weekly catch-up where they talk about the next ‘Listening Lunch’ they have planned.

“One of the things that really attracted me to a role at The Dental Directory is its approach. The business is ambitious, but it has no desire to become a faceless corporate operation, instead it’s retained a welcoming family feel and genuinely values its employees and its customers. A fact that’s clear when you see how many members of staff have been working here for 15, 20 and even some for 30 years.

“Our Listening Lunches have been introduced to give employees the chance to meet up with a member of our senior management team and ask them any questions they would like answers to. Although, we’ve only have a few sessions so far the feedback we’ve had has been really positive both from employees and senior management.” 

Later that day Kate is back in her office at her desk - a place that she stresses always has an open door policy – proof reading the first edition of The Dental Directory’s employee newsletter. 

Both these recent initiatives are part of a deliberate focus to improve communication across this growing business – ensuring all employees feel connected and updated on commercial and social news about the Company.

“For me HR should be a department that’s approachable. People need to feel comfortable that they can come and see me or any members of the team with a concern or question they have. No HR department’s door should ever be closed.”

With almost perfect timing as Kate says this an employee walks through the door asking if she has time to talk about some training he’s interested in pursuing.

It’s 5.30pm and Kate’s getting ready to leave the office. It’s Thursday night and as a part time employee, Kate is preparing for some time with her young family in the countryside.

“They love nothing more than being in the country and splashing about in wellies – it’s a balance I love and a great end to a very busy week.”