Meet the Team: Clare Gunning, HR Director

Date: 07.05.2020

Passionate about developing culture and driving innovation throughout the Catapult team, Clare Gunning, HR Director at CSA Catapult chats to us about the importance of trust within a company and how she’s adapting to the ‘new normal’ way of working and living.

How did you get into a career in HR?

My first glimpse into HR was during my degree, where I studied an additional module in HR Management. At the time I was training to become a Modern Foreign Languages teacher and later moved to France to pursue this. Fast forward a few years and I came back to HR as I was interested in learning more about people and how they interact with one another. Also, what makes folk ‘tick’ - I like to find ways to help people get the best out of themselves at work.

I began my career in HR working in a Manufacturing and R&D company that were involved in early broadband and telephone technologies. Then I went into the Voluntary Sector, which is a big passion of mine. I worked in this sector for around 15 years before I joined the Catapult in 2018, as I’ve always needed to work for a company that makes a positive difference to peoples’ lives.

Why did you join CSA Catapult?

I saw CSA Catapult as an opportunity to make an impact in a different way. It's amazing to be working with individuals who are creating change and innovation in the sector. CSA Catapult has people working at the cutting-edge of technology, it really is a special thing to be a part of.

Working at the Catapult has made me reflect on what I do and how I work. Every day the team are finding innovative solutions and working on incredible pieces of technology that will have a positive effect on individuals’ lives. They’re pushing the boundaries of what is possible and when you work with people who have these qualities, it makes you work more innovatively too.

How do you drive culture in an innovative company like CSA Catapult?

The way that we work together as a team helps to drive an innovative culture. Culture is about direction of travel – it’s never static, it’s either improving or not. This is why it’s so important to constantly monitor which way you’re heading. Practically speaking, I think positive culture is driven by recognising success, sharing challenges openly and constantly making sure our values and behaviours are reflected in the work that we do.

Culture is fluid, it’s constantly changing, and we have to keep looking for ways to improve it.

How do you promote a positive culture during times such as COVID-19?

This is a different way of working and living for everyone. Having to adapt so quickly, our whole team are currently working from home and they have met the challenge with amazing resilience. We were lucky that before COVID-19 we had great technology in place to allow us to work from home, as some of our team worked remotely already. I’ve seen our people remain positive and productive in these bizarre times, and we are continuing to deliver on projects.

One of our core values as an organisation is ‘Trust’. If you can’t trust your people, then why would you employ them? Our value of trust has been put to the test over the last few months, as we’ve needed our colleagues to put their faith in us as an organisation. I feel so proud of our team and how brilliantly they’ve kept going. Our employees’ health, both physical and mental, must be our priority and we’ve worked hard to look after our people. We won’t achieve success as a company if we don’t treat our people well.

How are you adapting to the ‘new normal’? 

I’ve tried to keep to a routine as this is something that helps me maintain not only productivity, but more importantly, my sanity. I’ve been going out on daily walks to get fresh air and a break from my laptop. It’s so important that during this period, we’re allowing ourselves regular time away from work.

Being on lockdown is tough, but it’s given me more time to appreciate some of the simple things again. I’m a member of the WI, and love cooking and craft. Like everyone else on Instagram, I’ve been baking a lot more during the lockdown period (banana bread, anyone?). I’m hoping to continue finding occasions to do this as it makes me feel relaxed and gives me some much-needed creative time.

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