This Episode: REAL HR with Gary Cookson

In the latest edition of the ‘REAL HR’ series, Lucinda talks to Gary Cookson, director of EPIC HR, devoted to leading and directing HR, OD and L&D functions, an expert in workplace performance and a leading expert in the design and delivery of online and virtual training programmes. Gary has also been recognised by HR Most Influential as one of their leading Movers and Shakers 2019.

Gary joins the show to today to discuss his “Real HR” story, from his beginnings as a teacher and how this influenced his career path, the importance of coaches and mentors, and the differences between working for an organisation and working for yourself.

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Key Takeaways

  • The roles of coaches and mentors are invaluable, especially in the world of the virtual environment of learning. Being challenged is important, as is a new perspective and the benefit of experienced guidance.
  • Mergers can present problems in terms of culture variance. Often they are cited as unions, when in fact, the incoming culture seeks to replace the previous. This can lead to a clash of beliefs and values.
  • We are often faced with decisions about the balance between our working lives and our personal lives, with many choosing to tip the scales in favour of career. But it is important to remember that we work to live, rather than live to work.
  • When you work for yourself, you have a greater level of control, and when you make errors, they belong to you. This accountability is far easier to accept, and can help us to develop, personally, without feeling a sense of injustice. We own the mistakes.

Best Moments

‘It was a real struggle to teach people who didn’t want to be there, and who didn’t want you to be in front of them’

‘I couldn’t stay there any longer without sacrificing what I wanted to be as a HR professional’

’There’s a tipping point when it comes to children!’

’You have 168 hours in a week and 40 of those are spent working. When you look at someone’s output on social media, it should be in proportion to what their life looks like’

About The Guest

Gary Cookson is a father of four, husband of one, and in his spare time runs his own business called EPIC, which helps people and places to Evolve, Perform, Improve and Compete.

Gary is a CIPD Chartered Fellow, a Fellow of the Learning and Performance Institute, a qualified coach and member of the Association for Coaching. Furthermore, he is a Personal Trainer, a teacher, a qualified workplace mediator, a qualified H&S professional, a distance learning tutor. And more besides…

Career-wise, before launching EPIC, Gary was Associate HR Director at the DBS, and HR Director at Trafford College. Prior to that he was responsible for HR/OD integration work at a new housing group. Gary, was also Head of HR & OD at Golden Gates Housing Trust for 11 years, has experience of working in a call centre, a national charity and an international pharmaceuticals company.  Prior to working in HR he qualified as a secondary school teacher (teaching History).  Gary has also managed and delivered CIPD programmes for many years and delivered face to face and distance learning qualifications for a range of providers and awarding bodies.

Outside work, Gary is a keen sportsman – competing in triathlons regularly but also having led and managed some representative sports teams – a father to four lovely children, and husband of a long-suffering wife. Everything he does is for them.

Gary is active on social media – you can follow him on Twitter, or connect with him on LinkedIn.

About The Host

Lucinda Carney is a Business Psychologist with 15 years in Senior Corporate L&D roles and a further 10 as CEO of Actus Software where she worked closely with HR colleagues helping them to solve the same challenges across a huge range of industries. Indeed it was this breadth of experience that inspired Lucinda to set up the HR Uprising community to facilitate greater collaboration across HR professionals in different sectors, helping them to ‘rise up’ together.

“When we look up we rise up”

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