Coffee & a Chat with Donna Herman – HR & Office Manager

Donna Herman – HR & Office Manager

With nearly 25 years of refurbishment & fit-out industry experience under her belt, Worksmart’s HR and Office Manager Donna Herman tells us about her role, the responsibilities she has and how she came to be where she is today.

Tell me a bit about your working background and how you joined Worksmart?

I have always worked in an office doing an Administration/Office Manager role since leaving school nearly 30 years ago. From when I was a young 23-year-old and before joining Worksmart I had worked for a couple of companies which were of the same background. I met Steve, who owns Worksmart in one of these companies nearly 20 years ago. He was a Quantity Surveyor in the firm, so I’d known Steve a long time before he set up Worksmart in 2002. Steve was looking for an Office Manager and I had a chat with Lisa, came to join Worksmart and I have been here since! It’ll be four years in February.

Describe your role and the responsibilities you have?

It’s a bit of everything to be honest. Because of my background I have knowledge in a lot of different areas. Mainly, I do HR, Accreditations, help with PQQ’s, Clearances and obviously managing the office as well.

How do you find managing the office?

I enjoy it, it’s what I’ve always done. I’ve done the job for so long; for all the differences in the companies I’ve worked for, it’s always been pretty much the same throughout.

You’ve witnessed the growth of the company first hand, how much has your role changed in that time?

There’s a lot more people now so I’ve progressively got a lot more involved in the HR side of things. The company has gone from 10 or 11 people when I started to around 46 now. So this takes up more of my time now, just down to the number of people.

What’s your best piece of advice for a young person looking to get into your profession?

Don’t give up. I’ve got here through experience much more than education initially. I’ve always put my all into every job I’ve had, and I believe that’s been a major factor in my success.

Education is massive, but you don’t necessarily require to have a degree to make your way in the world; I’ve only got Highers. What I’ve always said is that you can work your way up the ladder. As long as you have the correct work ethic and attitude, are hardworking and you put your wholehearted effort into something, you can get to where you want to be.

There’s been a big thing recently about exam results; both of my kids have done really well and have been or are going to university which is great, but if they hadn’t achieved the results they’d been looking for, I wouldn’t ever push them to be anything other than honest and hardworking with a good attitude – I believe that can get you far in life.

What’s your favourite thing about working at Worksmart?

Steve, Lisa and all of the Directors want us to work as part of a team, striving to get to where we want to be. They’re very good at recognising people who work hard. If you do come into Worksmart and you work hard and put all your effort into it, they will recognise that.
When you’re working in an environment that recognises hard work, it makes you want to push further.

When you’re not in the office, what do you like getting up to?

I look after my elderly parents, I’m their main carer, but at the weekends I tend to try and give myself time off. My social calendar is always really busy to be honest; there’s always something going on! I love spending time with family and friends.

A Coffee and a Chat with… Lisa Neilson, Owner and Financial Director

Lisa Neilson – BSc (Hons) MSc, has come a long way within Worksmart over the last 10 years. A qualified forensic scientist, she tells us about her journey and shares her advice to any young people with aspirations of a successful career.

Could you tell me a bit about your working background?

I’m the Owner and Financial Director of Worksmart Contracts. I’ve been involved with Worksmart for 10 years. Before then, I went to University and my final job was working as a Forensic Biologist.

In 2008, I made the decision to come away from science and join Worksmart. Originally, everyone within Worksmart performed different jobs across the business, but mine was Financial Director/Receptionist/Bookkeeper/Project Manager/Office Manager. Very wide spread.

Now, 10 years on, we have built the business so that everyone has their own job roles and responsibilities which creates a more smooth and efficient business.

Describe your role and the responsibilities you have?

We have offices in Kilmarnock and Edinburgh, with the head office being Kilmarnock. As well as these, we also have a hub office in London. My main day to day role is to concentrate on the financials of the company but I do get involved in overseeing all the different departments within Worksmart: from the implementation of new systems to interviewing new personnel to visiting site and dealing with our quality management system.

In the near future we will be employing a new Financial Controller. They will run the financial department with me overseeing it. We are also currently looking for an Estimator and a Quantity Surveyor to help with the growth of Worksmart.

What’s your advice for a young person looking to get into this sector in a similar role to yourself?

I’ve had to work hard at everything I’ve ever done. It was never just plain sailing for me. You don’t just have to be academic to be able to run your own company; as long as you work hard and ask the right questions and show that you’re enthusiastic you’ll be given a chance in life. If you follow these basic principles, you will become a very valuable individual.

When you get out of the office, what do you like getting up to?

I love to travel and to keep active. And I also like to catch up with friends and family.