One of the privileges of being involved with Ministry2Business is getting to meet a lot of people doing terrific work in different sectors and workplaces.
One of the challenges I’m aware of is it’s very easy to feel isolated when it comes to living out our Christian faith at work.
So, quite simply I hope these Spotlight interviews inspire and encourage us to see we’re not alone and we’re part of the bigger story that God is telling.
Introducing: Faye Briffa Founder Ashfield HR
Faye is an experienced senior Human Resources consultant with 20 years experience with AstraZeneca. At the start of 2020 she set up her own consultancy to provide personal and tailored HR support and advice suitable for small businesses, freelancers and charities. Faye and her family are active members of St Martin’s Church in Heaton Norris.
1. Tell us a little bit about your business story – how and why did you get into the human resources sector?
I studied Sociology at University and always had a vague sense that Human Resources might be something for me. After uni, I faffed around for a couple of years, drifting through admin and temp roles. I then got a call from a temp agency to say that there was a six-month contract at AstraZeneca just outside Alderley Edge. At the time, I was just about to move to London, so I didn’t jump at the chance, however it was in HR so I reluctantly went for the interview and was offered the job. That was in 2000 and I remained at AZ for almost 20 years doing a variety of different roles, always in HR. When I look back on my time at AZ, and how I came to be there, I can really see God’s hand in the way my career has unfolded, in ways that I never thought it would. It kept me up North and provided me so much varied experience globally. I had the chance to fully immerse myself in all the key HR disciplines and experience lots of different HR challenges.
I loved working for AZ, however in 2018, I was told that my role was moving to Cambridge and we were offered relocation. We decided as a family it wasn’t right for us to move, and so in 2019, I took redundancy. I’ve always wanted to see if I could set up an HR Consultancy and so at the beginning of this year Ashfield HR was born…
2. So tell us what have been some of the encouragements and challenges you’ve faced as you’ve established your own company?
It’s quite daunting setting out on your own, especially when you’ve been used to a nice big corporate comfort blanket wrapped around you! I’m really grateful for early clients, and me having the chance to prove to them (and myself!) that they have made a good choice in working with me. This has been a real encouragement to me.
I guess in terms of challenges, there is one very big one that we are all currently struggling with, COVID-19. Starting a business at the beginning of this year was possibly the worst time to do so, and being so new, I obviously won’t get any financial support from the Government. That said, there have already been some HR opportunities coming along as I support small businesses through furlough, and potential redundancies discussions. When I went into this, I saw this as a 2-3 year business build phase and I have to keep reminding myself I’m only in month 4!
3. What do you hope Ashfield HR will be able to offer a client that’s distinctive from other services?
My target client base is primarily small businesses who don’t have any in-house HR. I’m aware there are a lot of offerings for this out there, many of which are very generic. My aim is to offer a more personalised outsourced HR. I’ve really taken the time to understand my current client’s businesses, understand their goals and strategy and then apply HR and what I offer into their own specific setting. They often want very different things from their HR support and that’s great for me. I’ve recently helped one client with setting up a streamlined performance management process and will hopefully provide some training to their line managers later in the year. I’ve spent some time reviewing and recommending an HR system for another client, and for another, I’ve helped them with policies and their employee handbook. It’s all very varied but tailored to what the clients needs at that point.
4. What has been a key lesson you’ve learned, or best bit of advice you’ve been given, and applied in your work?
There are so many lessons I’ve learned over the years. One that’s stayed with me and is all the more important to me now setting up a business is resilience. For me, personal resilience is going to be the thing that really will shape how much of a success I make of Ashfield HR. There will undoubtedly be knock-backs and bumps along the road, and I need to be able to pick myself up, put it behind me and move on. Related to that, I’ve always found it helpful to remind myself that my work does not define who I am – that God doesn’t look at me in relation to my work status, how senior I am, how successful my business is etc. and there is something very freeing about that.
5. Your Christian faith is an integral part of your life – how does it impact and shape your work – where have you seen God at work through your work?
I’ve seen God at work through my work so much. As I said earlier, when I look back over my career and more recently through the set up of Ashfield HR, there has been a number of times that I’ve literally been blown away by God’s hand and direction on my life. The most striking of these was probably back in November time last year. I was having a bit of a wobble about whether I should do the business and was contemplating whether to just go and get a job. I prayed that morning that God would show me what to do. I got a text that afternoon out of the blue from a friend saying ‘I don’t know what you’re doing with yourself at the moment, but I think you’ve left AZ and I was wondering if you wanted to do some consultancy for our new business set up.’ They were my first client.
6. What does a ‘job well done’ look like for you?
It’s always been very important to me to work in a way that honours God and so for me a job well done looks like getting the right result for the client, but also treating people well, with respect, dignity, being honest, and generally acting with integrity that brings glory to God in the workplace. I appreciate that in order to achieve both, I may have to be selective in the clients I work with, and this may impact the profitability of the business, but I’m ok with that.
7. If you were stranded on a desert island…and you could have one luxury what would it be?
I’m quite ashamed to admit this, but it would be chocolate. I think I can get through most things with some of that around!