Deborah Cookson - Senior HR Business Partner

International Women's Week - Deborah Cookson

What is your cur­rent role and how long have you been with VPS?

I am the Senior HR Busi­ness Part­ner for VPS UK and I have been at here for just over 3 years.

What has been your career journey?

Being total­ly hon­est at 18 I didn’t real­ly know what I want­ed to do but I knew that I had enjoyed Busi­ness Stud­ies at A Lev­el so I chose to study a Busi­ness degree. After grad­u­at­ing from Uni I was then lucky enough to join the retail­er Lidl on their grad­u­ate scheme to become a Dis­trict Man­ag­er which then lead to oth­er Region­al Man­ag­er roles with­in retail and the Wel­fare to Work sec­tor. It was only lat­er on in my Region­al Man­age­ment career that I decid­ed the ele­ment of my job I loved the most was peo­ple so I enrolled to do my CIPD qual­i­fi­ca­tion and take my career in a spe­cialised direc­tion. After com­plet­ing my CIPD I became a Region­al HR Advi­sor then Busi­ness Part­ner and most recent­ly Senior HR Busi­ness Partner.

What advice would you give to some­one aspir­ing to have a career in HR?

Be pre­pared that you have to wear many hats” espe­cial­ly at this lev­el. One minute you will need be a sup­port­ive ear and the next poten­tial­ly help­ing to make busi­ness crit­i­cal deci­sions that may be life chang­ing for anoth­er col­league. Your oper­a­tional col­leagues will look to you for con­fir­ma­tion that they are doing the right thing” with what­ev­er sit­u­a­tion they are man­ag­ing so it can be intense, how­ev­er if you have a pas­sion for peo­ple and a pas­sion for busi­ness then a career in HR is right for you. 

What has been the most mem­o­rable achieve­ment in your career so far?

Being appoint­ed as a Dis­trict Man­ag­er at just 22 years old. I am also proud that I had the con­fi­dence to change my career at the age of 30 to what I knew I tru­ly want­ed to do. 

What would you like to achieve in the future?

I would like to look back and know I made a dif­fer­ence for col­leagues in any busi­ness that I have worked in, and apart from con­tin­u­ing my own per­son­al devel­op­ment with­in the HR field I want to sup­port my almost 5 year old daugh­ter achieve her dreams – cur­rent­ly that is being a princess when she grows up so I think I‘m des­tined to fail at that one!