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What I’ve Learnt: Lynne Poole, head of people, Bailie Group Business Services

Lynne Poole

Lynne Poole is head of people at Bailie Group Business Services, part of Leeds-based communications company Bailie Group.

The family-owned business has six communications agencies and consultancies nationwide.

Lynne is an experienced head of human resources, with over 25 years of experience within the industry. She first joined Bailie Group in 2020 as head of people, following a 20-year stint at Nichols.

She shared all the lessons she has learnt across her career and personal life.


Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without?

Whilst I like to be up and about early each day, I am not approachable for a conversation until I have enjoyed two cups of tea – a lesson my husband learnt many years ago!

What’s been your luckiest break?

Being made redundant! Many years ago, I was devastated to find myself being made – what I felt unfairly – redundant. However, if I’d have known then what I know now, I would have dealt with it in a whole different way, but that is another story. 

Before I was made redundant, my job title was production team leader, managing two food production departments. Once unemployed, I commenced my job search and applied for a team leader role, for a contract packing firm owned by Nichols plc – the group best known for the soft drinks brand, Vimto. It became clear at the interview that the role they were looking to fill was more junior than I was searching for, but they saw something in me, and felt I could help them develop their people.

They created a position for me and that was the start of 20 happy years with the firm. I worked hard – working full time, raising two children, and completing my professional qualifications – and developed my HR career over the years until I became head of HR for the group.

What’s your best failure?

My best failure was my driving test – it took me three times to eventually pass, but it taught me to persevere. Each time, I had to dig deep to pick myself up to have another go, and my dad was a great support during this time. He was amazing and funny, and he decided, as dads do, that the instructor was not teaching me properly, so he took over. 

I was awful at reversing the car, and we spent most evenings practising this around our area. Eventually I did pass, and I learnt that by working hard, accepting help from the right people, and with a lot of persistence, you can achieve your goals and dreams.

What is the best investment you’ve ever made, either financial or time?

The best investment I have made is with my children – they are grown up now, and I am incredibly proud of them both. Being a parent is the best and hardest job in the world, and I would not change it for a second. It was a challenging balancing act being a working mum, too – it required  planning, routine, and lots of support from family and colleagues. Without their help it would not have been possible.

I reflect on those times when my children were little, I had to make sacrifices – such as not attending sports day – and that was difficult, but they were outweighed by the benefits we enjoyed as a result of my career. They saw me work hard and both of them have taken forward that work-hard ethic in their careers – they make me very proud!

Which book would you recommend others to read and why?

‘Who Moved My Cheese?’ A book by Spencer Johnson. Early in my HR career, I was faced with a task to support the directors with a large redundancy process. It was a daunting prospect, especially as changes did not sit comfortably with me, and I found it hard to deal with. My MD gave me a copy of this book to read – it was very simple but impactful and it switched my attitude and approach to change.

What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Life is an adventure, if something doesn’t work for you, don’t be afraid to try something different. Do what makes you happy.

Who or what has had the single biggest influence on your working life?

My dad, he was my superhero – there was nothing he could not do, he encouraged me to have a go at anything and everything. Whilst I wanted the pretty dresses and the dance classes, I also wanted to know how to fix stuff, and he would patiently show me how to use power tools, build things, and decorate etc. No matter what it was, if I wanted to have a go, he would show me how. I keep that attitude with me every day.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

I am a trained chef. My dream at school was to be the next famous culinary icon, and while my parents did not want me to take this career path, they never stood in my way. I attended college, got my qualifications, and then at 18 entered the world of work full time.

Unsurprisingly, in order to work as a chef, it required evening and weekend shifts – when all my friends were out enjoying themselves. Over time, this is what catalysed my career change – which did not surprise my parents. But looking on the bright side, there were many life skills learnt, and I can feed myself and family!

How will the COVID crisis change work for the better?

I am not sure if the Covid crisis will change work for the better or worse, but one thing for sure is that it has altered it for many.

I believe that businesses are still searching to find the best way to make the workplace work for everyone. I am fearful of the isolation that home/hybrid models might bring to some, but on the flip of that, having the flexibility to work from home some of the time means that parents might not have to sacrifice some of the things that I had to when my family were younger.

What does success look like to you?

Success can come in many different guises – a nice car, holiday, job title, or status. But honestly, success for me is contentment, knowing I have done the best I can and that I have been rewarded fairly, so that I can support my family.

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