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Network Homes' Fiona Deal wins HRD of the year

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Deal fought off tough competition against the industry's brightest and best at the 24th HR Excellence Awards

Fiona Deal, executive director of people and culture at Network Homes, has won HR director of the year at the HR Excellence Awards 2019.

Deal was honoured with this prestigious accolade at HR magazine's awards ceremony held at Park Lane Hilton Hotel in London last night.

It was one of five wins for Network Homes, who also scooped Best HR team, Outstanding engagement strategy, Best learning and development strategy and the Gold award.

Speaking to HR magazine about her win, Deal said: "I'm absolutely delighted, I'm surprised, I'm excited. And I'm completely overwhelmed. It's an emotional moment and I feel extremely proud of everyone on our team."

Deal joined Network Homes in 2015 in an especially challenging time, after the housing association had emerged from unsuccessful merger negotiations. This led to a complex federal group of companies being collapsed into a single operating organisation. But deploying her experience in crisis management, her determination and her passion, Deal was able to successfully lead a radical restructuring of the business.

Deal has helped Network Homes achieve a place on The Sunday Times Best 100 Not-For-Profit Organisations To Work For 2019 list, along with a two-star Best Companies rating.

“She has helped to bring the company into the 21st century and it's now a company that I am proud to be a part of,” commented one employee, voting for Deal to win this award.

As well as introducing ROCKSTAR management and leadership training, organisation-wide customer service mindset training, and a new CSR initiative, Deal is known for encouraging colleagues to push themselves out of their comfort zones.

Commenting on Deal’s nomination, chief executive of Network Homes Helen Evans said: “I’ve personally held a tarantula spider, dressed up at Christmas, taken on volunteering challenges and worked to be more visible and available – all in the name of role modelling our culture and leading from the front."

A number of former colleagues also voted for Deal to win, demonstrating her ability to make a significant and lasting impact: “[Fiona is] a wonderful role model and someone to learn from. She has a wonderful way of getting to know her team members and understanding how to get the best from them and enabling them to get the best for their careers too,” one stated.

Looking ahead, Deal told HR magazine that Network Homes now plans to focus on becoming more digital: "We've got a huge digital transformation planned that will see us come back stronger, more efficient, and more resilient than ever," she said.

The HR director of the year shortlist is produced following nominations and input from the HR magazine editorial team, readers and industry experts and is based on achievements during the last year. Readers then vote for their winner.