On 14 March 2015 the Business School will celebrate 65 years of Human Resource and Personnel Management at Middlesex University with a reunion for former students and staff. In the lead up to this historic event, we look at some of the alumni from these programmes and ask them about how their time studying at Middlesex has shaped their career and what changes they have seen in HR since they graduated.
The first Middlesex alumna helping us look back over 65 years is Kim Gieske. As HR Director at Planet Organic, Kim tells us how her HR strategy managed to turn things around for the company, and recalls how different office culture used to be.
Kim Gieske – HR Director at Planet Organic
Kim Gieske has been HR Director at organic supermarket Planet Organic for five years. When she was first offered the job, Planet Organic had just narrowly avoided bankruptcy, and Kim was employed as part of a management team to turn things around. Despite the huge challenge ahead of her, Kim saw great potential in her role and relished the opportunity to work with a CEO who understood that a good HR strategy can have a positive impact on an organisation.
"I had an amazing lecturer in Anna Kyprianou. She made HR really interesting" - PG Dip Human Resource Management alumna Kim Gieske
Kim and her team got straight to work putting their strategy in place, making sure that they were hiring the very best people for each job and improving operational standards. Structures were quickly put in place around absence, lateness and appearance to raise standards, and her team ensured all staff had excellent training on the company's products to increase the level of service.
Through focused training and improved standards, Kim and her team helped Planet Organic revitalise its image, and the company has since opened two new stores.
"I really enjoy seeing the impact that mine and my team's work can make on the business," Kim says.
"Seeing people grow and develop is also immensely satisfying, as is finding a great candidate to fill one of our roles."
Respect in the workplace
Talking about the ways in which HR has changed since she began working in this sector, as well as changes in business terminology, Kim has noticed a growing culture of respect in the workplace.
"In the early part of my career I was quite shocked when my boss slapped my bottom," Kim recalls.
"I don't think that would happen nowadays!"
Studying at Middlesex
Kim first came to Middlesex to study BA Business Studies in 1985. After doing a placement year at NCR, the exposure Kim had to different disciplines within HR meant that she was fully prepared for her first graduate role in industrial relations at BT. Having enjoyed how thorough the learning was at degree level, Kim later returned to Middlesex to do a postgraduate diploma in Human Resource Management.
"I had an amazing lecturer in Anna Kyprianou," Kate remembers. "She made HR really interesting, but she also insisted that we each take it in turns to present a module to our colleagues. This gave us the confidence to stand up and present with authority and prepared me really well for having to do this in the workplace."
Not finished with studying, Kim is now pursuing an Executive MBA in the hopes that it will allow her to contribute to even more success at Planet Organic.
"I have always wanted to do this and I think it is important to constantly differentiate yourself and show that as an HR leader you are fully conversant with all the commercial aspects of the business," she explains.
For more information on the HR and PM reunion, click here. Join in the conversation on social media using the hashtags #MDXalumni #MDXreunion #HRPM65.