· 2 min read · Features

How I got here: Louise Hollywood, Pinsent Masons

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Louise Hollywood, head of group HR at law firm Pinsent Masons, gives her tips for a successful career in HR.

Head of group HR, Pinsent Masons, October 2008 – Present

What started as a Scotland-focused operational role soon developed into a UK-wide strategic position, leading a team of HR business partners.

My time at PM has coincided with a time of significant change in the legal industry as many firms move away from a focus on black letter law to becoming professional, commercial advisors to their clients. Forward-thinking people practices and policies are needed to drive this change, making it an exciting time to be in legal HR.


Senior HR manager, EY, September 2006 – October 2008

Moving into professional services showed me what HR could really achieve. EY had, and still has, a strong focus on talent management, coaching and best in class HR and allowed me to build on my interest and skills in these areas. This role moved me away from operational HR towards a more strategic approach to developing people, teams and a best-in-class business.


HR business partner, Prudential Assurance, May 2005 – September 2006

I took this role when I moved back to Glasgow from London and was HRBP for a large customer services team. Prudential was undertaking huge structural changes at this time so my focus was often on redundancies and trade union talks.


HR specialist, Standard & Poor’s, October 2001 – May 2005

I started here in a data role but quickly moved to a business partner role. Standard & Poor’s was the perfect place to build my career – I was trusted to run processes, complicated ER cases, million-dollar salary and bonus budgets and even spent a few months in the New York office on a restructuring project.

Standard & Poor’s showed me how the best companies use the different talents of diverse people to create a successful brand and that humanity is the most important thing to bring to any HR job.


Various roles, Kelly Services, October 1998 – September 2001

I performed a variety of roles for Kelly Services in Glasgow, Sydney and London both as an employee and a temp. I worked in branch admin and as a recruitment consultant, in their Australian Finance team and the internal HR department in London.

Working for Kelly taught me some HR basics – recruitment, HR data and admin and also how the finances of a global organisation work and was an excellent grounding for future roles.


Top three career tips:

  1. Understand the numbers – HR is a business function and understanding the performance of your company and the financial drivers will allow you to better support the company and its people and offer commercial advice.
  2. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge that the most senior person doesn’t always know the most – My team have different areas of expertise and experience and I’m not afraid to seek their advice or acknowledge their expertise.
  3. Don’t engage with or encourage a sense of HR being separate from the rest of your company – An HR team can only be truly successful when they build strong relationships across the company and work in partnership with their stakeholders.

This piece appears in the January/February 2021 print issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk

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