Charlotte Brierley

People & HR Teams should live and breath innovation, every bit as much as much other departments do- why should Product & Tech teams have all the fun?

Since joining Fire Tech in 2016 as employee number 5, I’ve been in the lucky position of experiencing the startup-to-scaleup phase of the UK’s leading Tech Education provider for 7-17 year old students.

At the point of joining Fire Tech, I didn’t really know what coding was let alone ever think I would be able to do it myself- it always seemed to be something that mostly men did and learnt in their teenage years. However, through leading the People function at Fire Tech, I have had the privilege of meeting people from all walks of life who have inspired me and the thousands of students that we reach every year in the UK, to believe that tech is for everyone.

Every year we source, hire and train over 150+ STEM tutors and teachers across the country to deliver our courses on subjects like robotics, AI, Augmented & Virtual Reality, Coding, Electronics and the Creative Digital Arts for thousands of kids & teens in the UK and abroad. To do this as a one-woman-band for the first two years in our HR department, this was fair to say- a bit of an undertaking, but nevertheless an experience that I would do all over again in a heartbeat. I am proud that as well supporting our intense company growth with our people resourcing, I managed to lift our representation of women in our tutor/teacher cohort from 20% to 40% in that two year period.

With such low levels of women in Tech across most industries, it is a passion and a priority that we have adequate representation of women in our tutors and teachers as well as our core team. Fire Tech currently is represented by women at a minimum of 50% in senior and middle management, as well as our wider core team. I am extremely proud of our approach to Diversity & Inclusion in our hiring, as this enables all of our students to have the opportunity to see themselves in our team members, and feel empowered to achieve without barriers.

Now that we have a bigger People/HR team, my focus is to ensure that we provide all of our people with the best job that that have ever had/will have. We continuously look to innovate in how we do this and try to further imbed our learning culture. Everyone in our organisation, regardless of their job role, can now code. Just as we give our students the opportunity to learn the skills they need to thrive in this and the developing digital age, we also give our tutors and core team members the opportunities as well.

As a HR professional I truly feel that the best way that we can develop people is to not only focus on developing their skills required by their current role or department, but to also open up those opportunities outside of their field- that previously may have never felt possible. Regardless of our backgrounds, age, culture, gender and education-we can all learn, and this is the ethos that I will continue to proselytize as my short but sweet stint in HR continues.