Interview with Jenny Williamson, UK HR Director for NoteMachine and Testlink

Jenny Williamson is UK HR Director for NoteMachine and Testlink. We caught up with her to talk about her role within the company.

Hi Jenny, please can you tell me how long you’ve been at NoteMachine and what your role is within the company?

I joined NoteMachine in July 2023. I’ve always worked in HR and have over 25 years’ experience. I am more of an HR generalist than a specialist; I focus on specific areas such as reward, learning and development, recruitment and talent management. As a generalist, my role is to directly support a business, bringing all the specialist areas together. I partner with the entire organisation to create their people strategy, so I see myself as a business person first, with an HR specialism.

Where did you work before NoteMachine?

I spent over 10 years at General Electric, which was a great experience and a fantastic place to learn. They were quite ahead of their time, even talking about Diversity and Inclusion 20 years ago. So I’ve seen what ‘best practice’ looks like, which has been really helpful in subsequent roles. I had roles in GE Money and in their GE Healthcare sector.

I subsequently worked at Costain, a construction company, for about six years, which was great fun. It was a very interesting company to work for, dealing with big civil engineering projects. My role in HR was very much at the coal face of the business as they grew and I often dealt with clients too, regularly getting involved in bid writing.

In more recent years, I have completed some shorter contracts, including at Intertek, a FTSE 50 global quality assurance company. I supported lots of different functions and clients, all with different needs and strategies, so that was very interesting.

How did you come to join NoteMachine?

My journey to NoteMachine came about when I was actually taking a career break, having never had one before. I was still looking at different future career options during my break, and the NoteMachine opportunity presented itself out of the blue.

I really liked the people I met, and it seemed a fascinating place to work. I knew that NoteMachine and Testlink, who I also support, had recently been acquired by Brink’s. I could tell it would be an interesting challenge to help them integrate with a big global brand like Brink’s, with the experience I had gained from GE and elsewhere.

Having always worked for bigger, global companies, I knew I’d enjoy the blend of working with a smaller organisation which has retained its family-run culture, combined with a PLC. You get the essence of a small company, but with the might and associated opportunities of a big company, to support future growth.

What does your HR role entail?

I’ve been with NoteMachine for just over six months now. I generally spend two to three days a week at NoteMachine’s HQ in Crickhowell, Wales, then am home based for the rest of the week or out and about.

I have two main ‘hats’ in my HR role, the first of which was to create a people strategy for NoteMachine and Testlink. After I completed a comprehensive discovery phase to understand NoteMachine’s objectives, coupled with Brink’s global goals, I am now executing that people strategy, to integrate NoteMachine and Testlink into the Brink’s global fold.

The people strategy is flexible and ever evolving, but I have a very good HR team around me to support all areas of the plan. We have recently launched an Employee Engagement Survey: whilst it’s important to keep people informed about what’s going on in the business, we also need to hear from them on a regular basis.

We have also launched the Shine Recognition Scheme, aligning nominations to the six Brink’s values (which are customer focus, engagement, continuous improvement, diversity and inclusion, integrity and safety). The process is very inclusive and enables anyone from the business to be nominated by their colleagues, recognising how they have really shone. It’s a powerful framework for people to demonstrate and uphold the Brink’s values in their everyday behaviour.

In addition, I have set up regular internal comms to make sure we are in touch with our people in the right way, such as quarterly Town Hall meetings and email updates.

As part of wider Brinks global project, I’m working on implementing ‘Workday’, an HR system, which will ultimately consolidate HR globally, automate numerous manual processes and bring together in a single system deeper data insights and greater functionality. It’s a big project and quite a significant culture change for NoteMachine and TestLink. The new system is a lot more about self-service and more rigour around goal setting. As time goes on, we will add even more value by switching on more automated modules for things like end-to-end recruitment, learning and compensation.

I also help bring together some of the principles around performance management. This involves how employees are appraised, how their goals are set, how their performance is measured, as well as ways to recruit and attract talent.

A large part of my job – the second hat – is partnering with the NoteMachine and Testlink leadership teams, to understand their business goals and help drive their business agenda. I love the fact that my role is so varied every day: some days I am in discussions with the leadership team about how we grow the business or recruiting for a new member of the leadership team, other days I might be implementing a new system.

This month, we will be training all the managers on people leadership, which will help them develop the right skills to lead their people and develop effective strategies for building high-performing teams. I have also completed training and development with the leadership team around how they collaborate with each other as a team and get the best out of each other.

Any final thoughts?

The majority of NoteMachine and TestLink work force is field-based operational roles, so we must think carefully about how we reach those people. Our engineers and Cash in Transit (CIT) drivers are always out and about, on the road. It’s great to see a real team spirit in the depots, and they really support each other.

That’s the essence of the company: it has still retained that family feel, with everyone looking out for each other. Nothing is too much trouble and there is great camaraderie. I never want to lose the essence of that, as that is our secret spice.

I feel like NoteMachine and Testlink can more forwards with the best of both: retaining the family culture and essence of loyalty, yet also taking the opportunities of a global company like Brink’s, which opens up more doors in terms of development. I’m excited to see where the future takes us.

Many thanks, Jenny, for these great insights into NoteMachine’s commitment to their people.

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