HR Hotspot: Interview with Gail Hatfield

Tell us about your current HR leadership role? And describe the career journey that led you there.

I joined Energy Systems Catapult in 2016, just at start-up phase as Head of HR.  My team and I have worked really hard to set up, build and now develop the people function.  The day I started we had 36 employees and we are now nudging 200 plus all our various contractors and partners, so it has been a bit of a journey in the last few years. I am now People & Resources Director and I head up all those elements that touch our teams and help make us successful – HR, Training and Development, IT, Facilities and Legal.

Like many others I came to HR (or Personnel as it was then) by accident.  I was training to be an accountant and took a role within a work-study team; I was asked to cover for someone in HR and that was that….

I have worked across local and national government, retail, consultancy, manufacturing and distribution – a varied and interesting background.  I have also been lucky enough to work in multi nationals down to family owned organisations, and also, internationally so I have a breadth of experience across whole business functions and not just HR.

How would you describe the culture there at Energy Systems Catapult?

Since day one, the senior team have worked hard to build an inclusive and pioneering culture to drive engagement and productivity.  So, I am really happy to say that in our recent Listening Survey our teams said they would describe us as;  friendly, supportive and innovative.

We are also operating in the energy/engineering space which is predominantly male led and I am pleased that our team profile is 42% female with 37% of our tech/STEM roles filled by women. This is great after just 4 years of being in operation.

Are there any career defining moments or people that helped shape your career in HR?

Oh, there are lots of moments! I always say, “you can’t scare me, I have worked in HR”. The most enlightening one for me was when I made a huge mistake in the early 2000’s (both money and potential people impact) and the way my then boss was and subsequently handled it was great. I had the confidence to admit immediately what had happened and his response was both practical and allowed me to learn my own lessons by working with him to put it right. Of course, the ‘telling off’ came too but it was all measured and appropriate. I have tried to follow his example as my own career has progressed.

There are a couple of people who really believed in me, even when I did not believe in myself, and they have been really influential, but I will not embarrass them – they should know who they are.

What would your advice be to your younger self?

If I could sit opposite myself, I would say “stop thinking you should not be there or you are not good enough, you have worked hard for this and would not be in the room if you were not wanted there”.  The other would be “breathe!”

And finally, tell us about you away from the office.

I am a Mum, wife, daughter, sister and friend.  Enjoy entertaining, assisting my husband with his charity work, keeping an eye out for my elderly Dad, complaining about the trains and sleeping!

This Culture‘s HR ‘Hotspot’ is brought to you by our HR Business Partner, Oliver Martin. For any enquiries, contact Oliver on:  or 0121 272 6494

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10th June

Career Advice