Ciara Carty, Human Resources Director, Principal Connections’ HR Leader of the Month for May 2019
Q. THE CAREER & THE PERSON Describe your career journey and tell us about Ciara Carty the person?
I am a person who is both naturally curious and empathetic so it has always felt like a natural fit to be in HR. My own HR path evolved quite naturally during my time with Bank of Ireland group. Back in the late 1990’s, I was in a personal lending role in a city centre branch and found myself more and more interested in people and the interactions therein. Being a large organisation, the opportunity was there and I took a calculated risk in 2000 to move from branch banking into a HR role. I never looked back. I built up a range of skills over the years and got great exposure to HR in all sorts of settings within the group. Over the years, I worked in HR Shared Services, the SAP implementation Fastnet Project, BOI subsidiary EFE (Enterprise Finance Europe) and finally Corporate Banking.
In 2007, I shifted gears again to leave behind Financial Services and move to the Not For Profit Sector. This move brought me to Crosscare, a long established NGO providing social care services across Dublin. Back then there was very little in place in terms of a HR strategy which was both a challenge and a unique opportunity. Under the leadership of a fantastically supportive CEO, I got to build a solid HR team and believe we have a true partnership with the services and projects we work with in Crosscare.
Q. THE COMPANY Describe your current company?
Crosscare is a company like no other I know. It’s not as well-known as some other NGO’s but day by day, the services are meeting the needs of hundreds of people from every walk of life. The projects are diverse and offer a range of services to people who are in critical need in their lives. On any given day Crosscare are operating from over 50 locations across Dublin & Wicklow. We may be supporting someone who is experiencing homelessness, or we could be helping a working parent who is experiencing food poverty and can’t provide food for their child’s lunches. It’s a very action oriented organisation with a person centred culture and a great can-do attitude from everyone who works there. The company has grown over the years but has always retained its core values: love, respect and excellence.
Q. THE CHALLENGES What do you see as the most important challenges facing HR Leaders today?
Generally as a HR Leader I think the biggest challenge currently is to become more creative in how we manage and support individuals and teams. We are still using many out of date HR models in performance management. I think we need to support people in a more coaching oriented way and work harder at developing growth mind-sets that fit better. Our working lives have transformed so much over the last number of decades and HR models need to be able to adapt to these requirements.
A particular challenge HR leaders are facing in the NGO sector, is the ever increasing need for professionalisation and increased requirements in governance. These are crucial developments but can be challenging for HR leaders who have less resources allocated for these areas. Many charities are still under-resourced following the recession and are trying to meet the demands of increasing homelessness and social isolation.
Q. THE ADVANCES What do you believe the biggest advances in human resources will be over the next five years?
The increasing use of digital technology in every aspect of working life. I wonder in 5 years’ time whether we will still be recruiting employees using face to face interview.
I also think the term “Human Resources” may be at or near its expiry date. I started out in Personnel many years ago and think the shift is starting again to redefine what HR is all about.
Q. THE ADVICE What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
Stay authentic and be yourself. No matter what role I’m in that’s simply it, “a role”. I am still the same person whether I’m at home or in work, I just have different conversations.
Q. THE MOTIVATION What keeps you motivated day to day?
What keeps me motivated is being able to connect with other humans. I can’t count how many interactions I might have in a day but our CEO, Conor Hickey, has always guided us to make sure that each interaction is as positive as possible.
Q. THE ACHIEVEMENT What has been your proudest career achievement to date?
The amalgamation of the Diocesan agency Catholic Youth Care with Crosscare in 2013. This was a big transformation project and my aim throughout was to help create an organisation where every person in Crosscare, through robust and fair HR & People policies, can realise their full potential during their time with us.
Q. THE INSPIRATION Who inspires you professionally?
Both Simon Sinek or Brenee Brown are both inspirational speakers that I find very engaging. I am inspired by a number of colleagues, family and friends who have taught and continue to teach me very valuable life lessons over the course of my career.
Q. THE STAYING CURRENT How do you stay up to date?
Meeting other HR people, attending briefings, reviewing journals. My goal is to keep learning from others.
Q. THE DOWNTIME Tell us about your interests and how you relax?
A simple walk in nature with my partner Shane, and dog Bailey will lift my day. Adding to that is a love of photography and an absolute addiction to adventure travel. This addiction has got me to the far corners of the world in some the most isolated places on earth – I have had great expeditions to Antarctica, Alaska, Canada, Australia & Japan. Each place has given me great learning and appreciation for the world we have.
Thank you to Ciara Carty for her participation in our HR Leaders Series.
Crosscare is the Social Support Agency of the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin and provides a range of social care, community and youth work services across the Dublin Archdiocese. We were established back in 1941, and still continue to play a significant role in the provision of services to people affected by poverty in the Dublin area. We are making significant efforts to improve the quality of service and environment on offer within our sector. In early 2013, Catholic Youth Care joined with Crosscare to form one organisation. Currently we employ over 500 staff with over 1,500 of volunteers in locations throughout the greater Dublin area and Wicklow.
Crosscare’s ethos is based on the principle that every person is created in the image and likeness of God. This places responsibility on us all to work to the highest possible standards while treating every person who uses our services and who works for and with us, with the utmost respect, courtesy and love.
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