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Dublin Executive Search Firm, Principal Connections announce Michelle Bonner as HR Leader of the Month for June 2021


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Q. THE CAREER & THE PERSON Describe your career journey and tell us about Michelle Bonner the person?

The Person
Born in Country Clare and raised on a farm, I’ve also lived and worked in Australia and currently live in Enfield, County Meath with my husband and two boys Jamie (4) and Ollie (2).

Life is very busy, but I enjoy being busy, it’s when I’m at my best. I’ve a keen interest in the gym and keeping fit, but this has been one of my biggest challenges in the past year. I’ve always lived the with the ethic if you work hard you’ll get to where you want to be, but always make time for yourself. I enjoy travel, and seeing new places with family, making memories with friends and a good night out never hurt anyone.

The Career
Over the past 15 years I was awarded opportunities in both professional and developmental, in numerous sectors to include retail, pharmaceutical distribution and currently within the Med Tech and Pharmaceutical at B Braun Ireland.

My career started in HR and developed in a more hands on operations role at Lidl. Naturally, I found my way back to HR and spent 11 plus years in Uniphar. It was at Uniphar, I progressed from HR Generalist to HR Director.
This experience gave me new insights as part of a global organisation through leading the HR function in Ireland and UK. In this busy role, I was responsible for transformational change, learning and development, operational HR along with strategic people projects.

Now Country Head of HR for industry leaders B. Braun Ireland, I’m required to be more agile than ever before. The past year especially – like most HR functions we needed to demonstrate agility and pause our HR plans as we supported our companies to adapt to the global pandemic.

My time in HR has brought many fantastic opportunities and learning experiences, taking on new challenges including downsizing projects, establishing HR functions for new business, working as part of a global team. All while studying part-time to attain my Masters in HR Strategies.

Q. THE COMPANY Describe your current organisation?

B. Braun is a world leading, family run, progressive Medical Device and Pharma Company. Originally set up in Germany. One of the main draws to working with B. Braun is the shared global passion for people and customers. It’s much more than ‘JUST’ a job. We protect and improve the health of people around the world. Our patient stories always inspire us to do more, be creative and innovative in providing even better care to encourage them to get the best treatment / life balance.

Q. THE CHALLENGES What do you see as the most important challenges facing HR Leaders today?

The role of HR has evolved in the past couple of years and especially in the last 18 months. The transition from the perception that HR is an administration function to a value-add business partner has been the biggest challenge.

I think the past 18 months has allowed HR functions to bring value around adapting to the Covid crisis and supporting senior leaders and their teams through the change. HR has had to think about the practicality of everyone working from home to include Health & Safety and wellbeing and ensuring all of these were catered for. HR should be an integral part in all business decisions and should have a seat at the top table to ensure involvement in business decisions, the impact to people and culture and be part of the decision-making process. I’m pleased to say I work for a progressive company and people are seen as the best asset; thus, HR is seen as an integral part of the organisation.

In the past year we’ve had to shift to remote working, the challenge for HR leaders now is to ensure employees feel part of a team and connected to the organisation. I feel HR should have a strong link with the communications department, the implementation of open and honest company communications is key and involving employees as an inclusive trust-based company is the outcome we all want. Adapting to new ways of learning and development is another challenge with the move from what was once classroom based to now virtual and ensuing our managers are equipped to manage the team remotely and ensuing the sense of belonging and afforded opportunities for development.

Within my current organisation because we have dialysis nurses, production operators, technicians, sales staff and office staff, a key challenge is ensuing all staff are effectively communicated and engaged with the changes within the organisation. Balancing the fact that some roles can work from home and others cannot. We talked to the team, we listened to the team and ensured we adapted policies for all roles. This was a key challenge. We have employees who have been patient facing in clinics and hospitals and kept production going – we’ve had to ensure the Health & Safety and wellbeing of our team were of upmost importance and all relevant risk assessment and safety protocols were in place and all support structures were evident if there was a Covid positive case. I could not be prouder of our team.

Q. THE ADVANCES What do you believe the biggest advances in human resources will be over the next five years?

The connection between technology people and the workplace. We now rely on technology to get our work done. It is now about finding the balance to ensure we don’t lose the human interaction face to face. The use of technology for data analysis and freeing up HR teams to be more of a value-add strategic HR business model and afford teams, the time to immerse themselves in the business.

Q. THE ADVICE What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

Do not be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself. The fear factor can sometimes get the best out of you and give you a newfound confidence. Do not over think things, just get on with it. For example in 2013, I was getting married, started my masters and there was a massive site closure in work all happening around the time of my wedding. I just got on with it at the time but if I over thought it, I may never have taken on the masters, and that is something I would have regretted.
Another one is finding a coach or a leader that inspires you and will provide you with different perspectives and challenge you. Personal Growth is important. As Nike says, Just Do It.

Q. THE MOTIVATION What keeps you motivated day to day?

I’m a very positive person and the more I’ve to do in a day the more productive I am. I get my energy from my role as I love what I do and from the support network / people around me. I like structure, clear paths – so getting up early gets me ahead for the day. It could be going for a walk, catching up on work or just having a cup of tea this sets me up for the day. The pace at which the working world is changing and how quick organisations must adapt ensures I keep on top of new ideas. I involve my team where I can, allowing them to see what is happening and gaining input. I hired them for a reason and as much as I inspire them, they inspire me.

Q. THE ACHIEVEMENT What has been your proudest career achievement to date?

I’ve been with B. Braun for just over 2 years now, and in those 2 years, I’ve established a one country – one team for HR. Prior to this there were 2 HR teams working in silos and there was no consistency around the operational HR elements.

We now work as one team, with aligned policies and procedures across all 6 sites in Ireland. A body of work that has been embraced by all sites. I’ve been involved in the GPTW and with all the changes led by HR B. Braun is recognised in the top 20 Great Place to Work in Ireland.

In 2020, we commenced our wellbeing strategy and adapted to Covid and this was shortlisted in the top 6 at the CIPD awards. So, in summary my proudest achievement is the evolution of the HR function at B Braun over a short period of time and the impact to the business. I enjoy working with such a positive, productive and inspiring team.

Q. THE INSPIRATION Who inspires you professionally?

In HR, you see many people come and go for a variety of reasons, it is the nature of the job. I feel I find inspiration frequently, be it someone who is a high performer, who inspires me to be more creative, or someone who puts themselves forward for a new challenge. Covid revealed many inspirational people within my current role.

In saying that, I’m equally impressed by people who feel comfortable enough to come forward and let me know they feel they are not progressing as they would like, or that for personal reasons they need to rethink their hours or take some time off. HR care about people, it is why we do what we do.

Q. THE STAYING CURRENT How do you stay up to date?

I ensure I use my extended network of HR professionals to source ideas and gain perspectives.

I also like to read articles that are relevant to current HR challenges specific to my current organisation. I’d frequently attend seminars and utilise resources such as CIPD, IBEC, GPTW and our global business knowledge centre. One of our core competencies is sharing expertise so I’m never afraid to look for recent guidance.

Listening to the team and employees is also a key factor in staying current, what works for one company may not work for others. By listening we can work out what is right for our team.

Q. THE DOWNTIME Tell us about your interests and how you relax?

With 2 young kids and family in Donegal and Clare my relaxation time daily is a walk or a gym session. At weekends, it’s all about getting out and about with the kids or getting a break to see family. I’ve a good circle of friends so a night out with them is always a good tonic too. Its amazing what a night of laughing with your friends can do for you.

CLOSING COMMENT:

Congratulations to Michelle Bonner on being named Principal Connections’ HR Leader of the Month’ for June 2021.

ABOUT B. BRAUN MEDICAL

B. Braun Medical Inc., a leader in infusion therapy and pain management, develops, manufactures, and markets innovative medical products and services to the healthcare industry. Other key product areas include: nutrition, pharmacy admixture and dialysis. The company is committed to eliminating preventable treatment errors and enhancing patient, clinician and environmental safety. B. Braun Medical is headquartered in Bethlehem, PA and is part of the B. Braun Group of Companies in the U.S., which includes B. Braun Interventional Systems, Aesculap® and CAPS®.

Globally, the B. Braun Group of Companies employs more than 64,000 employees in 64 countries. Guided by its Sharing Expertise® philosophy, B. Braun continuously exchanges knowledge with customers, partners and clinicians to address the critical issues of improving care and lowering costs.

ABOUT PRINCIPAL CONNECTIONS

Principal Connections is Ireland’s top international executive search firm global reach. We offer five interrelated talent acquisition and advisory services to private, public and not-for-profit organisations across Ireland which include:

  • Executive Search
  • Board Search
  • Advertised Selection
  • Interim Management
  • Leadership Consulting & Assessment

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Principal Connections is Ireland’s leading Executive Search Firm and the Irish Office of Agilium Worldwide LLC.

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