Each week, we ask small businesses key questions. Here we speak to Kim Hunter, owner/director of The HR Dept – Highlands.
How and why did you start in business?
I’ve been in human resources (HR) for more than 20 years, working with some amazing businesses. I always knew I would start my own one day and the stars finally aligned this year.
The HR Department is the largest network of industry professionals providing outsourced HR support to businesses throughout the UK. It works on a franchise basis.
I launched The HR Dept – Highlands in February. It has given me the opportunity to use all the experience I’ve gained from different sectors and international businesses to provide expert consultancy to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on a cost-effective, outsourced basis.
SMEs are my passion, and I’m delighted so many are choosing to work with the HR Dept – Highlands.
The drive, commitment, and dedication they have to succeed is really quite special and inspiring.
How did you get to where you are today?
I’ve always worked in the “people” sector, starting in HR with the NHS, then specialising in talent acquisition, while working with external consultancies, before becoming part of in-house global HR leadership teams in the oil and gas, financial services and emergency services sectors.
Running my own business seemed like a natural career progression.
Who helped you?
I have a strong core of super-talented friends that I’ve developed throughout my career and they’ve all contributed massively in their own ways to my decision to start my own business.
My partner, Jon, has been a huge help and support too. He’s a search and rescue winchman paramedic, working on the Coastguard helicopter in Inverness, and his professional approach to problems has helped me tackle the challenge of starting my own business from a completely different angle.
The Federation of Small Businesses provided really useful practical guidance when I was setting up, and it will continue to do so as my business develops.
What has been your biggest mistake?
Not starting the business sooner. If you are sitting on the fence, wondering if and when to take the plunge and go it alone, I would do it.
It’s a little bit scary, but it’s also empowering and enormously gratifying.
What is your greatest achievement?
It’s still to come – but I’ve gained immense pleasure from completing large scale projects, winning business from important customers, achieving an MBA, running a marathon, completely redesigning a room at home and much more.
If you were in power in government, what would you change?
I would divert more funding into the NHS. Our medical specialists in the UK are true heroes, but the growing demands and challenges they face will never be met from current budgets.
In beautiful Copenhagen, where I worked for nearly 18 months, there is a real cycling culture, with six bikes for every car.
We could do the same sort of thing here, if only our government invested in essential infrastructure.
What do you still hope to achieve?
Business success and to be the go-to HR consultancy for SMEs in the Highlands.
What do you do to relax?
Hop on my mountain bike, run with our black labrador, Buddy, or take our SUP (stand-up paddleboard) on the nearest piece of water.
Paddleboards should be free and everyone should have one; the sense of freedom and calmness on the water is amazing.
What are you currently reading, listening to or glued to on TV?
I recommend The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. It’s a great, intriguing read from an awesome author who describes how someone’s life may have turned out if their decisions had been different.
Life without music would be unbearable and my playlist is very mixed, but I love Dermot Kennedy. I’ve been glued to The Mosquito Coast recently.
What do you waste your money on?
Books and red wine, and I have a sizeable shoe collection.
How would your friends describe you?
Loyal, sincere, generous, dependable and fun – and the go-to person for killer mojitos.
What would your enemies say about you?
My focus and relentless determination to get the job done might upset some, but I don’t know who.
What do you drive and dream of driving?
I’m not big on cars, much preferring to use my bicycle, but when necessary I drive a Fiat 500.
I do dream of riding expensive road bikes – Cervelos are my vehicle of choice.