Women in Finance – series of blogs, episode 7

Louise Blair – Head of HR 

In the seventh episode of our Women in Finance series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Louise Blair, our Head of HR. This episode offers a light-hearted exploration of her incredible HR career which started over 30 years ago! Louise gives us an insight into her role at Foster Denovo and the challenges she faced being a working mum during the early stages of her career. 

“I embarked on my HR journey more than 3 decades ago, predominantly within the government outsourcing and health sectors. My professional path took a natural shift towards regulatory organisations, a niche field that greatly piqued my interest and I was keen to continue within this specialism.  

My journey at Foster Denovo started in 2016 as a HR Manager, initially on a fixed term contract. Despite not having a financial services background, it seemed the perfect opportunity to test the water with a different industry, and a different regulator! At the time, I was balancing my HR role with the responsibilities of a working mother, working four days a week. In 2017, I was promoted to Head of HR. 

As the Head of HR, I oversee the whole HR function, encompassing a wide range of responsibilities. This includes performance management, learning and development, employee relations, employee benefits, payroll management, reward and recognition programs, and of course engagement and retention.  

What makes my role exhilarating is its diversity. Working in HR means you’re constantly planning and developing new projects and initiatives that keep each day unique, meaning no two days are the same. In this role, you need to be curious and forward thinking, ready to meet and embrace rapidly emerging employment practices and developments, as well as managing the day-to-day operations (BAU).  

Reflecting on the earlier years of my career, being a female and a working mother 25 years ago presented significant challenges.  

Back then, there was no flexibility with working hours and working extremely long hours in the office was the norm, especially if you wanted to progress. My husband worked similarly long hours which often left me shouldering the responsibilities, juggling the demands of both my career and childcare. I am delighted and relieved that a more flexible approach to work now supports parents to progress their careers whilst enjoying their families. 

The financial services industry has evolved, and, at Foster Denovo, we are fortunate to see a substantial representation of women. The demographics have shifted, with more women securing senior roles, reflecting positive change. Personally, I’m very grateful for the continuous support received from Helen Lovett, our Chief Operating Officer, with whom I’ve worked closely since the start of my career at Foster Denovo. Her mentorship has been invaluable for my growth and I’m very thankful for her guidance during my journey here. 

I believe that self-assurance and resilience are the key ingredients for making anything possible in your career.  

One of my proudest moments was when we achieved the Investors in People accreditation, demonstrating our commitment to leading and developing our staffWe progressed to Silver accreditation, and three years later we attained the Gold accreditation. And of course, we’re now aiming to achieve the prestigious platinum status, as we continue to strive for even greater success in the future.