“I’m passionate about making people happy, engaged, motivated and inspired. To do that we need to listen to our colleagues, communicate effectively and stay committed to ensuring we have the right people, in the right roles, at the right times.”
With a passion for recognising talent and empowering people to be the best they can, Tracie Carter joined mdgroup in September, bringing more than 30 years’ experience in HR and marketing strategy.
Tracie shares with us what she’s learnt over the past three decades working for global businesses, what’s so special about mdgroup, what it was like starting her new role in the middle of a pandemic and what she is going to be focusing on in her role as Director HR and Communications.
Hi Tracie, tell us a bit about your experience, your background and how you came to be at mdgroup…
I started my career at Barclays, not in HR, but looking after customers. That taught me my first lessons in how to treat people well and manage expectations.
After a few years, I was approached by the Branch Manager and offered an internal trainer role. It was a fantastic opportunity and I had one of the most transformational experiences learning how to train others and develop training programmes.
After nearly a decade with Barclays, an opportunity came up at Royal & Sun Alliance. There, I spent a few years training people on negotiation skills, how to manage people effectively and communicate well, in what was a very male-orientated environment. This taught me huge resilience!
After a move into generalist HR, I spent many years ‘rationalising’ the business. This involved widescale redundancy and outsourcing programmes, with tens of thousands of jobs being made redundant over a 10 year period. One of my proudest moments during one of these programmes was being called the ‘human face of human resources’, which I felt was a real achievement during a very challenging time.
Later in my career, I took a very different step and joined a small marketing business as one of the company directors. As a shareholder of a small business it gave me experience across the whole company, and so I was involved in operations, sales and even directed the social media team. I learned a lot about what makes a great marketing campaign, which I plan to put to good use at mdgroup.
My combination of experience making big changes within a global corporate environment, plus the very different, hands-on, small team skills led me into my current role at mdgroup, which I am absolutely relishing.
What is your role and key responsibilities at mdgroup?
I started as HR Director towards the end of 2020, but I’m thrilled my role has grown to accommodate the marketing I love so much.
As Director of HR & Communications, I want to prioritise our internal communication as much as our external communications and I’m excited about that, because I know there’s so much opportunity for us.
What are you most passionate about in your field of expertise?
From an HR perspective, it’s about having the right people in the right job at the right time.
During one of my conversations with our Executive Chair, Miriam Dervan, she said the one thing she would hate more than anything would be to know anybody in the company dreaded coming into work at mdgroup. That really resonated with me, and from that moment we’ve been able to have really honest, meaningful conversations with a few individuals about finding the right role for them and moving them into work that made them happier. They’re now thriving in their new roles and feeling much more motivated.
I want people to be happy to be here. If they’re happy to be here, more engaged and more involved in our journey, that helps the whole business to be more successful.
What has been your biggest challenge at mdgroup so far?
Joining the business in the context of Covid-19 has been a challenge.
I didn’t meet my colleagues or fellow Directors for a couple of months after starting. But I’m proud of how we met, and are still meeting that challenge. Although I like to be able to shake a colleague’s hand or give them a hug when things are hard, we are such a great bunch of communicators that we’ve been able to reach out and connect virtually.
It’s not been easy joining a business in the middle of a pandemic, but mdgroup has prioritised putting our people first, even under the immense global pressure of facilitating clinical trials for Covid-19 vaccines.
We’ve looked after each other, not just ensuring we work safely and effectively from home, but also in terms of our collective mental health. We have recognised when individuals need support and ensured they got what they needed.
What is your biggest achievement since you took on the role?
Definitely building my team.
It was done all online and each of them had to follow a rigorous process to make sure they were absolutely right people for the roles. We now have a full time HR Consultant in the US to work with our growing team there, and, with my Senior Assistant in the UK, it gives me the scope to work more strategically.
We’ve had an uphill battle, and as we all started within about 8 weeks of each other, as steep learning curve. But I’m proud of the progress we’ve made so far.
What strategies are you putting in place to support mdgroup’s ambitious growth targets?
Well, there are a few strands to my developing strategy in support of our growth plans:
The first is training and establishing an online learning management system. This will be a user-centric platform where employees can access the training they need. It will give our teams the autonomy to learn at their own pace and in the time that’s right for them. We’ll hopefully be implementing this in April, which will be really exciting.
The second is developing and supporting the great talent we already have in the business. Talent management is one of my specialisms and I want to set up a Talent Academy for those with high potential, drive and ambition.
With people in different teams in different time zones, all working from home, how do you create a remarkable workplace culture?
Keeping our people engaged, motivated and feeling connected is so important – now more than ever.
The first step for me was creating a monthly internal newsletter, ‘Family Matters’. As well as the fun stuff like new babies, charity work, special days within the business, etc., it’s a way to share each team’s successes with the wider business. Every month we cover a different team, what they do, how they do it and a little bit about what they’re focusing on right now. This gives everyone visibility on what different departments are up to and shows the mix of skills we have at mdgroup.
But keeping people engaged isn’t just about giving them information and hoping they love it. It’s about listening to them and understanding what they need from the business.
When I started back in September, I booked in as many introductory chats as I could and of course, I speak to every new starter, usually on their first day.. Having a two-way, open channel of communication with everyone in the business is so important and that’s going to be a focus for me going forward into 2021.
And finally, what makes mdgroup a great place to work?
We call ourselves the mdfamily, and I can honestly say that there really is that feeling here. I’ve experienced it everywhere in this organisation. Everyone is kind and compassionate and always ready to help a colleague.
It’s a really special quality, and one I’m going to continue championing as we grow, to ensure that the talent we attract has the same values.
2021 is going to be an exciting year for mdgroup!
As Director of HR & Communications, Tracie Carter looks after mdgroup’s people as well as our internal communications and external marketing. She has over 30 years’ experience in HR and marketing, a wealth of business knowledge and a huge passion for empowering people to achieve their full potential.
With a background in training and HR for large corporates as well as helping to run an independent marketing agency, Tracie’s unique combination of experience and insight led her to her current role. For her, being part of mdgroup is an exciting opportunity to create remarkable experiences for our team and our customers.