· 2 min read · Features

What I’ve learned from a multi-sector career


Carmel Flatley shares what she's learned from various sectors, and we present the model multi-sector HRD's CV

HR director, Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), 2014 – 2017

"What I saw at the CMA was people coming from the private sector into the public and using their experience in a revolving door kind of way. So gaining experience and then bringing that back out to private law firms and consultancies."

HR director, Office of Fair Trading, 2008 – 2014

Non-executive board director, learndirect, 2006 – 2012

"Ultimately the charity needed to become more efficient so I brought my business discipline to say: ‘is it meeting its budget? Is it operationally effective?’ It also needed to market itself. So having worked at McDonald’s for 21 years I was able to understand the marketing plan it put to us and be comfortable challenging it."

Interim HR director, Circle Health, 2007 – 2008

"In the private sector the uniqueness is around delivery of operations, working within a budget, and applying discipline."

Chief executive, NHS Professionals, 2003 – 2006

"What’s very different at the NHS is the policy role. It was very much clinical governance around supplying temporary doctors and nurses. That takes on a different slant when you realise you have to make sure patients are treated by people who are who they say they are. That’s much more high risk than in the private sector."

Senior vice president, chief HR and training officer, McDonald’s, 1981 – 2003

"When I was at McDonald’s I looked after not just HR but also a portfolio of departments and sat with the leadership team working out the best business models and strategies. Having exposure to that helped when I moved to NHS Professionals because we were working out a new business model. So applying that kind of business discipline and approach was something that was definitely called upon and needed."

Carmel Flatley is a business coach at Carmel Flatley Coaching and Consultancy

The model multi-sector HRD CV

HR magazine created what we think is the model multi-sector HRD's CV. How does yours match up?

Personal summary

Senior human resources professional with experience working across a range of sectors: public, private and charity.

Key characteristics

  • Comfortable with ambiguity
  • Good at listening and willing to ask ‘the stupid question’
  • Intellectually curious; always prepared to learn something new
  • Open to new challenges, and non-judgemental about where interesting new challenges might come from
  • Resilient and confident to question accepted ways of doing things
  • Never rule-bound; embraces thinking outside the box

Key experiences

  • Secondment to the procurement department of current local authority employer to gain experience of operations and product
  • NED position on a private sector board
  • Regular mentoring sessions with a counterpart HR professional in a large FMCG company
  • Secondment from current local authority employer to work within a large retailer’s HR function
  • Regular attendee of HR networking and learning events unrelated to current role