HR Hotspot: Interview with Joe Parkes

Find Joe Parkes on LinkedIn

Tell us about your current HR leadership role? 

I am fortunate enough to currently work with ERIKS UK & Ireland (part of SHV) as their Chief HR Officer.

No different from many others I am sure, but my role goes beyond the functional responsibility for HR, which within ERIKS sees me leading a combination of HR, Learning & Development, Talent, Fleet, Payroll and Internal Comms teams – a gang of great people if I do say so!

I am also responsible for the Health & Safety of our 1850 colleagues, a culture we absolutely pride ourselves on to ensure all our people get home safely every day. Most recently I have also taken on the interim leadership of our Southern Sales and Operations teams.

So I guess, much like my car, my role is proving to be a hybrid.

How would you describe the culture there at ERIKS UK & Ireland?

Passion, Specialism and Innovation!

Everyday I am reminded of the great sense of service and commitment we have within our organisation. We have some fantastic people doing some really amazing things for our customers.

ERIKS is so much more than a Multi Product Specialist, through our engineering services and product know-how we make strive to make industry work better and its so visible at the many locations we have across the country.

Describe the career journey that led you to your current role?

I actually started my career in HR whilst still at University in Bristol. I had completed a placement year at Hays Specialist Recruitment (a great experience) and upon starting my final year managed to secure a few temporary assignments via Hays to fill my off days from Uni.

It is the old cliché of right place, right time. I was temping at Network Rail and overheard that they were interviewing in the HR department and a candidate hadn’t shown up. I asked to fill the slot and after an interview, was offered the role. Working 30 hours a week during my final year was a valuable step away from theory and into the practical world of HR.

Fast forward a little and I’ve had the pleasure of working within a number of different industries and for some great companies. I love what I do, and so every step has been an exciting (but often daunting) new challenge, but each one has set me up for the next.

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

I really do think that each and every role or leader I’ve worked under has shaped and defined my career to date.

I cant say they have all been enjoyable experiences, and I think that’s an important learning for anyone reading this and feeling like it doesn’t quite fit. That’s ok! Sometimes realising that you need to move on is in itself the right career defining moment.

Justin Pegg (COO at DPD) would have to be the most influential and inspiring leader I’ve worked alongside. Somebody who believed in me, but also the value that HR can bring to an organisation, albeit with a high level of expectation. He really taught me the importance of looking beyond the strategy and seeing the reality of those on the front lines and how best to serve the people and business. A great mentor and close friend to this day.

What would your advice be to your younger self?

Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to achieve a level or title. Career ambition and drive is valuable quality, but recognise the responsibility and expectation that comes with it.

Stepping up from HR Manager to Chief HR Officer was one of the single most challenging experiences I’ve ever had for the simple reason I am not really a HR professional anymore. I am a business leader, and 1850 people rely on me and my peers to make the right decisions for them and the organisation.

In many respects, we are quite literally responsible for 1850 mortgages, and that’s not a responsibility to be taken lightly, something I hadn’t truly appreciated until my most recent role.

Culture‘s HR ‘Hotspot’ is brought to you by our HR Director, Nicola Morris. For any enquiry, contact Nicola on:  or 0121 272 6494 / 07769 209607

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30th November

Career Advice