Extern News Meet Deirdre Congdon, Senior Human Resources Business Partner Hi Deirdre. Tell us a bit about how you came to join Extern? I was looking for a new opportunity and was linked in with an agency at the time. They had the job on their books, and it really caught my eye, so I applied for it and, fortunately, I was offered the position! Describe your career to date. I've been in the HR sector for eight years now, and previously worked in the charity and the commercial sectors. Education-wise, I have a Master's degree in Human Development and a Master's Degree in Human Resources Management, as well as qualifications in employment law, project management, and GDPR. Was Human Resources something you always wanted to do? Definitely. I knew from early on that I really enjoyed the people management aspect of it – training, recruitment, and so on - so I just decided to go for it, and I absolutely love it! What made you want to work for Extern? Well, my first HR role was with a charity, for about five years. I then moved into the commercial sector because I wanted to broaden my experience. I very quickly realised, though, that they have very different approaches. I missed that whole idea of being able to contribute to a bigger purpose, and give something back to others. I realised I was actually much better suited to the ethos of working in the charity sector. And what kind of insight into this sector has working with Extern given you? I am based in the Naas office, and worked from Cherryorchard and Ballymun offices, so I would meet the project workers coming in and out with some of their service users, and afterwards they would tell me about a little bit of the work that they do, and why they do it. The biggest thing for me, though, has been seeing first-hand the number of families and children, and people in the community, that really need the services of Extern, and how we can assist them to overcome challenges. I think I may have been somewhat naïve about the numbers of families and children requiring the services beforehand, so this has definitely given me a huge insight. Describe the work you do on a day-to-day level. My overall role is to work with the HR team to develop and roll out a strategy and initiatives to allow the organisation to reach its goals and objectives. On a day-to-day basis, my job is to develop and implement policy, and to coach and mentor people on HR best practice. I do a lot of one-on-one coaching, and I support individuals, both managers and workers, who may have concerns or issues arising in the workplace that they need addressed. What are the qualities you need to do your job? You need to be personable and reliable, and people need to be able to put their trust in you. You also need to be organised, as well as efficient. You definitely have to be flexible too, as you need to be able to meet the needs of the many different projects on any given day. What do you enjoy most about your job? I love working with people, and building relationships with them. Employee engagement really is one of the key things for me. What's different about what Extern offers staff compared to other organisations? What stands out for me is the culture. Everybody was so caring, and friendly and welcoming when I came into the organisation. There is very much an ‘open arms’ approach, and I was very quickly incorporated into the team and now feel very much a part of that structure. Another thing that’s very positive is the level of flexibility and support that is given to staff. If somebody was considering working for Extern, what would you say to them? What I would say is that staff in the Charity sector are dedicated to their job, it is like a vocation. If they are passionate and enthusiastic about making a difference in somebody's life, then Extern is the place they should be. People here are so passionate about what they do, and everybody just really wants to do their absolute best to help people. And finally, tell us a bit about you personally … I was born and raised in Dublin. I'm one of four children and am very much a family-orientated person. I'm engaged to be married in October of this year – Covid-19 dependent, of course! Hobby-wise, I would be very much into the gym, and would go most days. I also practice mindfulness every day, and I love books about personal development, which can be useful when working in HR. Reading about the human body and the human mind really interests me.