Name: Aoife McCarthy
Role within IKEA: HR Manager, Dublin
I have 13 years experience in HR, 11 years as an HR Manager across a number of different sectors – telecommunications, sales and retail. I have worked with Xerox, Google, Manpower and CPM Ireland.
Aoife, you joined IKEA from CPM Ireland in September 2014, how have you found the transition?
I will be honest, it has been intense. Changing jobs can be challenging as you absorb yourself in the new culture and the learning curve is significant, no matter how much experience you have. It’s like starting school again! I was also returning to work from maternity leave for the first time so adapting to life as a working mum was equally challenging. But since joining IKEA, I have not looked back. It has been an incredible experience so far. The first thing I noticed about IKEA was how welcoming everybody was – the co-workers had such a wonderful spirit within them, it immediately felt like home and I knew I was part of something very special. Within a few weeks, I felt like I had always been there. Understanding the culture is one of the most important things before making the transition to a new job. As a new mum, IKEA have been so supportive as I adapt to striking the balance between home and work. I really don’t believe I would have gotten the same level of support in another company.
How does your role of HR Manager at IKEA differ from your previous role?
People are at the forefront of IKEA’s business strategy which isn’t always the case for some companies. Everything we do at IKEA aims to support our co-workers. The biggest difference for me as an HR Manager in IKEA is supporting the store as Duty Manager at weekends. This is a fantastic way of keeping close to challenges in store and utilising this information in driving the people agenda forward. It also keeps me close to the co-workers and ensures I am continuously building relationships. I also work in partnership with our Business Navigator which is different to previous roles. Our relationship is critical in steering the business in the right way and we support each other in decision making. Also, I never had to wear a uniform until joining IKEA – I love not having to think about what I’m wearing, it’s at least an extra 25 minutes of sleep each week when you know what you’re wearing the next day!!
In your view, what are the key skills and qualities required for your role?
As an HR Manager, you need to be people focused, commercially astute, decisive and highly energetic. You need a high level of empathy while being able to adapt to an ever changing daily agenda. You also need to be a very strong leader.
IKEA are known for recruiting the person rather than the CV, what makes someone stand out as a candidate for IKEA?
I really believe that if you are committed to putting the customer first, have a high level of integrity and the desire to learn while learning from mistakes, you will be very successful in IKEA.
What advice would you give to candidates attending an interview at IKEA?
Be yourself. It is as much about IKEA being right for you as it is you being right for IKEA. If it’s really right for you, you might actually enjoy yourself at interview, I know I did!
What is the biggest challenge in your role at present?
My biggest challenge currently is prioritising. There are so many exciting projects on the HR agenda, I am eager to get me teeth stuck into all of them however I also need to manage the day to day operational issues in store.
What will your next role be within IKEA?
I always thought that I would stay within HR for the rest of my career but IKEA has taught me that if you are a strong leader and you have the ability to learn quickly, you can do anything and IKEA will support and develop you. I would love to be an Assistant Store Manager some day!
And finally, what is the best thing about working for IKEA?
The people. They are IKEA’s best assets and I am so proud to be a part of them.
To read more about the opportunities to join the IKEA HR team, click here