Coffee Club with Katie

16 Jun, 2021 . 4 minutes
  • Introduce yourself in a sentence.

I’m Katie Williams, I’m the People Manager here at APEXX, my star sign is Cancer, I’m a fun-spirited, recent new mum and I have a VERY big personality for a teeny, tiny 4ft 11” woman.

  • What is your role at APEXX and how did you come to be at the company?

I look after the People team at APEXX. So, I’m responsible for all things HR, People, culture related, and I run the recruitment drive as well. I have two people currently in my team, however, my team is expanding which is really exciting. Some of my recent areas which I’ve been developing throughout APEXX are employee wellbeing, learning & development, and leading diversity and inclusion in the business as well.

The way I came about APEXX is I previously supported the company with recruitment having known some of the founding team anyway and then a year ago one of the founders reached out to me directly and APEXX created a role for me – and voila, The rest is history.

  • Having worked with APEXX as an external what attractedyou to join the company as an employee?

The people. As I mentioned earlier, I knew a few of the team already so I was super keen in working with entrepreneurs who are dynamic, nimble, and innovators in the Fintech sector, and honestly it has lived up to everything I thought it would be. It’s so refreshing to work for a company where everyone really loves their jobs!

  • What achievements have you been most proud of so far?

There’s a few that I’m proud of! The new recruitment strategy that I’ve implemented – so we’ve taken our entire recruitment and onboarding in house which has become a smoother, more condensed process. Not only is it saving on cost on external resources, but I’ve also implemented a cool ATS called Team Tailor which is a Swedish recruitment ATS and it’s honestly a game-changer for recruitment.

I’ve also successfully gone through the long and gruelling process of getting APEXX’s Tier 2 sponsorship licence which now means we can employ top talent form outside the UK to come and work with us. It was a longwinded process, especially with the pandemic.

I’ve worked hard on implementing a new diversity and inclusion policy. We had a large gender gap at APEXX with a lot more men throughout the organisation which we’ve now improved by 35.7% in the last ten months!

And finally, I’m proud of the Internal Knowledge Sharing series that I’ve started. We have a monthly internal lunchtime workshop where one of our employees presents on a topic they’re most knowledgeable about to help the team develop in new areas. We’ve had sessions on “The Art of Negotiation” and “How to Operationalise Your Life & Work” so it’s a great platform for those with less experience presenting to gain experience as it’s only the APEXX team involved everyone is really positive and supportive.

  • What are your ambitions for your role and your team for the next 12 months?

I enjoy training and adding qualifications to gain more experience so I’ve recently booked some more HR courses to add to my current CIPD ones. My role is growing along with APEXX so as we expand, we’ll definitely need more people for internal talent roles and HR executives in my team so that’s exciting.

In terms of my personal progression, my dream role would be to progress to Head of People within the next year and then eventually to Chief of Staff whether that’s with APEXX or another organisation further down the line.

  • When you’re recruiting roles for APEXX what do you look for most in candidates?

Well, we definitely have a fair, non-bias recruitment process that we follow so within Team Tailor, our recruitment ATS, we can anonymise candidate’s CVs, names, gender and date of birth to make our initial screening completely fair. But in terms of the traits in a person, I don’t really like to look for one specific characteristic as we want individuals at APEXX who all can contribute with something different, however, I have noticed that we’ve tended to hire and be pulled towards entrepreneurial mindsets. People who enjoy bringing fresh ideas to the table. Something I’ve implemented is the typical ‘Rockstar vs. Superstar scoring card’ and we are hiring superstars!  

  • What have you done to ride out the pandemic?

I’m lucky enough to have an office at the end of my garden, it’s a summer-house/office shed thing. So that’s been pretty cool, and I’ve kitted it out with an electric standing desk and I’ve got my vinyl player in there playing some of my favourite records. I started my career with APEXX during the first UK lockdown so being in a new role has kept me super busy. Outside of work, every lunchtime I’m out with my dog for a walk then evening and weekends is quality family time.

  • What has it been like becoming a Mum in such an unusual time for the world?

Because it’s my first time being a Mum, I don’t really know any different. For me it’s been amazing! My daughter Bleu, who’s sixteen months now, keeps me incredibly busy. I actually started working at APEXX when she was five months old which, I’ll be honest, I was initially really nervous about as I hadn’t had long been on maternity leave. However, APEXX have been amazing and offered me so much support throughout my onboarding, so I started part time then throughout the months I’ve built up my hours to fulltime.

APEXX have worked around me and my family life, and a lot of employees at APEXX have young families similar to me so everyone’s been really understanding if I need to finish early or just generally juggling working and having a child at home. It’s worth noting that we’ve recently improved the APEXX maternity, paternity and adoption policy where we’ve moved from statutory to a strong new parental leave benefit. Our CEO, Peter Keenan, is a family man himself and it was his idea to make the adoption leave the exact same as the maternity/paternity policy which I think is amazing. I haven’t seen many other companies do this.

  • What’s the first thing you do when you switch off from work?

Switch onto Mum duties ;) But on weekends when we can go out we do loads of hiking, bike rides, and try to out to new places. I’ve bought one of those cute Dutch pastel-coloured bikes with a basket and a bell on the front and I pop my dog in the front, which is really funny, and we go bike riding.

Outside of family life I’m a social person, I love going to lively restaurants, cocktail bars where there’s live bands so you could often find me out with friends having a French Martini.

  • Do you have any personal heroes?

Yes, My Mum! She’s inspirational. She’s a retired nurse who’s spent her whole career caring for people with severe learning disabilities. Since she’s retired, she realised she didn’t want to stop helping so she’s become a foster carer! She’s been a foster carer for seven years now and honestly, she’s a saint.

Another one which is super geeky is Noel Fitzpatrick from the TV show Supervet. I’m a massive animal lover and I do loads of campaign around animal welfare, and he’s literally changed the veterinarian field. He once gave a tortoise a bionic limb!

  • You’ve alluded to your vinyl player in your office space. What are your favourite records in your office?

Queen’s Greatest Hits! I do get Stevie Wonder on weekly as well.

Thank you Katie!

Published by Sam Mahony

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